Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative has dispatched a five-man crew and a superintendent to assist in coordination activities to aid restoration efforts for residents left without power, after vicious wildfires caused mass destruction in the town of Detroit in Marion County and the surrounding area.
On the afternoon of September 12, the OTEC crew left for Detroit to help crews from Consumers Power Inc., restore power to its service territory after many areas the cooperative serves was destroyed by fast-moving wildfires. As of 6:00 p.m. Sep. 12, more than 96 percent of CPI’s members remain without power in the area of east Marion County, according to the cooperative’s outage map.
“We are thankful to be able to send crews to Marion County and neighboring areas if needed to help get the lights back on,” says Mike Pommarane, OTEC’s Director of Operations. “We take great pride in our electric cooperative family and are always willing to be able to help fellow members in need.”
Pommarane says the request for help came through a mutual aid agreement with other Oregon cooperatives through the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative network.
“As families struggle without power and the potential loss of lives and property because of these catastrophic fires, we are glad to be able to be on the ground assisting in any way we can,” he says.
Pommarane says the top priority of each local Oregon cooperative, including OTEC, is service to its own member-owners and the safety of the communities they serve. Before committing resources to mutual aid requests, each co-op ensures it has ample crews available for all local needs, including routine maintenance and the cooperative’s own outage mitigation. Since OTEC currently has available resources and manpower, Pommarane says it made it an easy decision to send a crew out to help.
“It’s a perfect example of co-op helping co-op,” he says.
Pommarane said the crew could be helping repair power for up to a week and possibly longer if needed and available.
“When we asked for volunteers for this trip, our employees recognized the gravity of the situation and stepped up to help.” Pommarane says. “That shows how serious our employees took an assignment like this, knowing they were volunteering to be away from their homes, their families for a significant length of time.”
The following OTEC employees have volunteered to take part in the mission to help restore power for their fellow Oregonians in need:
- Pat McCluskey – Senior District Superintendent
- Chris Deiter – Foreman, John Day
- Chris Peppers- Journeyman Lineman, Baker
- Casey Mitchell- Journeyman Lineman, Baker
- Travis Smart- Journeyman Lineman, La Grande
- Devan Attleberger, Journeyman Lineman, Burns