Our Opinion: Utility crews deploy to restore connections

Live power lines downed by heavy snow or ice along roadways are a triple threat.

Bystanders are urged to stay away — for obvious reasons — and to summon utility workers trained to restore power.

In the past two weeks, utility repair crews from near and far have converged in a number of Central Missouri communities to restore power.

They deserve our thanks.

The snowstorm double-whammy and the weight of the second snow were cited by spokesmen for two area utilities — Kent Martin of AmerenMissouri and Mark Boyer of Three Rivers Electric Cooperative.

“This is a heavy snow, and the problems are being caused by broken limbs and branches falling on power lines,” Martin said. “Some of those branches probably were weakened by the previous storm last week.”

Added Boyer: “A big problem we saw was the weight of the snow causing lines to sag, and when the snow fell off the lines, the wires wrapped together, which caused an electrical arc that created a short in the power line.”

Power outages create problems for both utilities and their customers.

Remedies include ongoing programs to trim trees and vegetation, and to convert lines from overhead to underground.

These programs and infrastructure upgrades come with a cost. And those costs can generate controversy, which is the case with a proposal now before lawmakers to allow some utilities to charge customers a fee to finance infrastructure projects.

While that political debate continues in the Capitol, rank-and-file workers are traipsing through snow to reconnect downed power lines.

The work they do — often in adverse weather conditions along treacherous roadways — to restore comfort and convenience should not be a thankless job.

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