Hundreds in PREMA without power after ice and wind damage
The Panhandle Rural Electric Membership Association hopes to have customers' power restored by Friday. Hundreds of meters are not getting electricity in the northwestern part of the state after ice and wind caused extensive utility damage.
Panhandle Rural Electric Membership Association General Manager Ryan Reiber says the number of meters without power in PREMA's district is in the hundreds.
Some service was restored Monday morning north of Scottsbluff.
Friday into Saturday a building of ice began, followed by high winds which, according to Reiber, created galloping lines and wind resistance on the lines, leading to a "cascading effect," and damage to the poles and lines.
He says the current estimate is 110 poles down. He said they are patrolling the area by plane because the biggest problem they've been facing is accessibility to assess damage, let alone fix problems. Getting a pickup to the sites is not as big of a problem as is getting big units out to dig and set poles.
And very concerning for PREMA is the 2-way communication tower that went down in the storm. Reiber said ice and wind took down all but 100 feet of the tower. He called it the "Heart of the 2-way communication in the Sandhills for the units out in the field."
And Reiber said, "We've been fortunate that everyone has been fairly understanding (customers). I thank them for that. Help from several of our customers, too; from helicopter use to flying lines to help us out. And the counties are helping us to open roads. It's just going to take time."
PREMA has commitment from Northwest Rural Public Power District and Roosevelt Public Power to send help as soon as possible. "As soon as they can release their folks," said Reiber, "they will come help us out."
PREMA provides power to 7500 square miles, with 3700 miles of powerlines in the Sandhills, and all or part of several counties including Grant, Arthur, Cherry, Garden and Sheridan.