Crews on stand-by if the lights go out

Crews on stand-by if the lights go out

LAWTON, Okla._Public Service of Oklahoma spent the day bringing in mutual aid from surrounding energy companies from Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi. It was all in effort to ensure residents aren't left without power.

The trucks are still here and everyone is on stand-by, but in the event of an ice storm, PSO is well prepared, ready to tackle an outage.

"Everybody's kind of ready. They're skilled professionals. They drive into town, they'd like to go to work," said Tim Hushbeck, PSO community affairs manager.

Hushbeck, says once the company's meteorologist gave them a heads up about Friday night's severe weather, all it took was a conference call to get help moving in by the truckloads. Help set up in Chickasha, Hobart and Lawton at the Great Plains Coliseum.

Hushbeck says things can turn ugly or dark fast. He says all it takes is a quarter to a half an inch of ice to trigger a power outage.

"There's nothing worse for an electric utility than an ice storm," said Hushbeck.

He says they've been on alert throughout the day and are most concerned about the hours between 5:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. when the temperature really starts to drop.

"The day's been pretty good. We've dodged a pretty big bullet so far. And hopefully, we won't have to send any of these guys to work. We'll be thoroughly happy with that," said Hushbeck.

Currently, there are over 1,100 PSO and contract employees on stand-by should a storm hit. Hushbeck says they are hopeful since there hasn't been any aggressive wind.

"When ice gets on a line, it forms a wing. Literally like an airplane wing. So, when wind starts hitting it, it starts flapping up and down and that breaks everything loose. That's what's been great about this storm, there's really no wind to it. How often do you not see wind in western Oklahoma," said Hushbeck.

Tall trees can also cause more outages, so aside from contract electrical companies,

PSO also called on tree removal companies to cut away limbs that may fall onto the lines and knock out power. Hushbeck says they had to pull out all the stops to take care of the community that has been so kind to them.

"Lawton's a great community to us, our customers are wonderful to us. And this is what our people are professionals at. When the lights go out, our guys, our line crews, our servicemen, go out in the worst conditions to get them back on," said Hushbeck.

Hushbeck says they have split up work schedules between day and night shifts. Crews are also staying at local hotels, since there's no exact day when they're expected to head back. He says they will leave whenever the work is done or when the local PSO crew can finally get a handle on things.

Hushbeck also says as of now, tax payers will not be footing the bill for the extra help. PSO will absorb the costs and it will not cause a rate increase.