All Power Restored, Pole Replacement Work Continues

BULLHEAD CITY, AZ – MEC is extremely happy that all our residential and business members have power restored after the catastrophic weather event our community experienced.

All residential members’ power was officially restored at 11:14am on 9/9/22 and the final business members’ power was restored at 4:44 pm on 9/10/22.

We have evaluated the system damage and have a preliminary report of:

  • 140 poles damaged (both wood and concrete)
  • 19 miles of line replacement

At the height of the storm, 36,000 member meters were without power. Key to the massive outage was the damage to the transmission provider’s 230 kV system, which cut MEC’s access to the bulk power grid, in addition to substantial damage to MEC’s distribution system.

“MEC crews, and those of our sister cooperatives, worked round the clock to restore power. They are our true utility superheroes,” said CEO Tyler Carlson. “Every employee, in every position in the cooperative, helped at some level and picked up and did whatever was needed to get the job done and support our crews. Saying thank you to the employees and crews just does not seem like enough.”

We are also deeply appreciative to our members for their patience and endurance, and support.

And the list of thanks goes on.

We couldn’t have done this without help from these other resources called upon to support the restoration efforts: Arizona Generation and Transmission Cooperative, Benson AZ; Trico Electric Cooperative, Marana, AZ; Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, Willcox AZ for their crews and supplied materials; and Navopache Electric Cooperative, Lakeside, AZ for donated materials. (Please see photo.)

Also helpful in restoring members’ power was Ervin Cable Construction (ECC) and Utility Excavating Services. A special shout out to the agencies coordinating cooling and water distribution centers for our members: Mohave County Department of Risk and Emergency Management, Mohave Valley Fire Department Station #81, Bullhead City & Bullhead City Police Department, Fort Mojave Mesa Fire Department, Bullhead City Elementary Schools, Colorado River Union High Schools, and the American Red Cross. MEC also wants to thank the nonprofits and volunteers that have provided resources to our members during this time. Thank you all for your time and dedication to our community.

Special thanks to the Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort Hotel & Casino for providing rooms for out-of-area power restoration field crews.

“This storm caused the most severe damage to MEC’s system in our history, by far. And may be the first time for our community, where a storm this severe led us to invoke the assistance from our neighboring electric Cooperatives. This is what Cooperatives are all about. One of our principles, Cooperation Among Cooperatives, is about serving members most effectively and strengthening the cooperative movement by working together. I am proud of our entire team, our line crew, operations, call center, auto shop, member service, and everyone who took part in the restoration and support of our members. I am proud of our community for coming together to assist members in a time of need,” stated CEO Tyler Carlson.

Even with the massive outage and the high temperatures, many members expressed appreciation for the heroic efforts put forth by MEC staff to undertake power restoration. We thank you for understanding the situation we were handed and for those that provided food and drinks to our staff.

And the work goes on, even with power restored...

To date, crews have restored a 230 kV transmission connection, re-energized substations, and made all the fastest repairs possible to allow switching and power restoration to a majority of members. The final connections were time consuming as separate poles needed replacement or new lines installed to re-route power to connect the last members and businesses.

Now the work begins to replace all the poles that are broken, fallen, or tilted. Several of the repairs that have been made are temporary and were made to restore power as fast as humanly possible, and that infrastructure and equipment need to be secured.

Communications providers such as Verizon, AT&T, TWN, Frontier, and Suddenlink should be restored and fixing any issues to service.

We are not out of the woods yet…

Our system, although fully powered, is vulnerable. If another storm comes, equal in magnitude to the 60-80 mph winds that were experienced on 9/4/22, it could cause another major outage in electric service. MEC staff will continue to work every day to strengthen our system as we recover from the storm damage and continue working to persist through the rest of summer.

Although weather issues can always cause outages, MEC has improved system reliability. MEC has installed a pair of solar arrays that combined produce 15.3-Megawatts of power. To help increase reliability in times of potential energy shortages, MEC is in the process of installing a large battery system coupled with solar. This was originally scheduled for the summer of 2022, but supply chain problems, among other things, have pushed the project into 2023.

MEC is also planning a 15-Megawatt battery project in a partnership with Arizona Electric Power Co-op (AEPCO). This should be up and running by summer of 2023, and we are also planning, again with AEPCO, a secondary flexible generation turbine for power generation that we hope to have up by the summer of 2025.

All these projects that are either completed or in process are local, being within our distribution network, and not affected by outside generation systematic failures, such as the downed 230 kV line. These local projects will help keep costs low as well as sustain MEC’s commitment to reliability.

As we look back on this week, one thing we have learned through this event is how caring our community is. This is a great place to live and work.

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