The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC held its May Board of Directors meeting last night where plans for an expedited vegetation management program were presented.
Vegetation is the number one cause of outages in the UDWI system, and the cooperative is committed to scaling up operations to address the issue. With existing resources and additional tree-trimming services from a contractor, the vegetation trim cycle will be cut to seven years from the current cycle time of approximately 13 years. The new plan will greatly increase reliability and address problem areas in the UDWI service territory more quickly, reducing both the frequency and duration of outages.
Adopting a seven-year cycle is an approved best-practice from utility companies across the region. Increased expenditures over the next five years will allow UDWI to hit its goal of trimming 200 miles of line each year.
“We will increase our trimming budget by approximately 25 percent for a five-year period. We will be able to so without raising rates to our members through previous expenditure reductions across other areas of the coop,” said Doug Childs, CEO of UDWI. “We are going to focus on the oldest, roughest areas of our system first. We want to ask our members for their patience and cooperation as we begin working in some very overgrown areas. Improving reliability for our members is our top concern.”
UDWI continues toward its goal to replace 25 miles of line in 2019. In the first quarter, crews have already completed 4.5 miles, with 13.5 miles currently under construction, and 3.4 miles under design. Once completed, this will be the most line replacement work done in one year in in the past decade and a significant increase over the four miles that were replaced in 2018. As much as half of the UDWI system is copper weld wire, which date back to the late 1930’s, when the lines were originally installed. Replacing our aging infrastructure will improve safety and reliability.
This summer, two interns will join the UDWI staff. Their work will include assisting in the IT department and in data entry for capital credits.
Longtime Community Fund board member Genie Bowers will step down this month and be replaced by Tim Abbot.
“I have watched this board grow so much and they are headed in the right direction,” said Bowers. “Thank you so much for all you do, I have enjoyed my time with the election committee and the Community Fund and I know you will keep up the good work.”
Next month, Hoosier Energy and Touchstone Energy Services (TSE) will conduct a Member Satisfaction Survey in our area. Beginning June 17, UDWI members will be chosen through a random selection process and be contacted by TSE to participate in the survey. UDWI wants its members to know that this is a legitimate survey and not part of any sales or solicitation calls. Contacted members are encouraged to participate to help UDWI reach its goal of 250 completed surveys. Results of this survey will be available prior to the end of 2019.
UDWI is looking for a lead mechanic. If you are interested in applying, please visit https://udwiremc.com/careers for more information on the job posting.
UDWI will hold its next Board of Directors meeting on Monday, June 24 at 6:30 p.m.