BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (Sept. 24, 2018) -- The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC held its monthly Board of Directors meeting Monday evening.
CEO Doug Childs shared an update on significant employee accomplishments and improvements in the operations of the cooperative. UDWI employees have improved the 811 “Call Before You Dig” process for members and have reduced unnecessary dispatches. Operations can now identify and confirm areas with no utilities through GIS in coordination with the 811 system. Members will now be able to move forward with all building, construction or improvement projects more safely and efficiently.
“Members calling 811 can now get a faster response for areas where no other utilities are present. This new streamlined process will reduce costs because we won’t send crews out unnecessarily, and we also have more accurate mapping of member lines. That said, we want to continue to stress the importance of calling before digging for any project; the safety of our members, and those working around power lines, is of the utmost importance,” said Childs.
Employees were also commended for the quick and efficient storm responses during recent outages from the severe weather of Tropical Storm Gordon. The operations staff and dispatchers had an average Facebook response rate of less than 10 minutes when providing updates on outages and answering member questions resulting from the storm.
Childs also announced that a new property & casualty insurance provider, Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange, will begin providing coverage for UDWI Oct. 1, saving the cooperative $105,000, which represents a 43 percent reduction in the policy’s cost. This savings is in addition to the nearly $1.5 million already trimmed from the overall UDWI budget this year.
In operations news, devices that allow automated responses to disruptions in service have been tested on parts of the UDWI system. These devices can make adjustments and restore power without the need to dispatch crews. The current trial encompasses an area near the airport and the devices will likely be used in more areas moving forward after the initial testing.
Also, a new training yard for linemen is being created onsite at UDWI and should be operational within the month. Details on the yard and how it will improve safety and reliability will be released in the coming days.
Member Services Director Kim Todd gave an update on the annual meeting and the voting process for Directors. For the 2019 election, members will again have the opportunity to vote online and by mail-in ballot for candidates. Members will also receive email reminders prior to the election with a direct link to voting. The additional reminders will encourage members to vote early and online, and is much more economical for the cooperative than onsite voting at the annual meeting. Last year, the new voting options resulted in the highest voter totals in UDWI history.
The Community Fund Committee met on Sept. 19 and awarded grants totaling $10,200 to the following organizations: American Legion (Greene County), Grace Center, Inc., Greene County 4H Poultry & Rabbit Club, Indiana Kicking Bear, Jasonville Police Department, Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana Open Arms Christian Ministries, White River Valley High School Drama Club, and the White River Valley High School Girls Basketball Program.