“When we’re on a mutual aid call, we all have the same goal — get homes back on.”
Each day, Pioneer Electric’s employees set out to provide world-class service, ensure our system’s reliability and power our members through various community-based programs. However, did you know a cooperative’s community extends beyond the borders of its service territory?
When impacted by catastrophic events that leave their members without power, cooperatives can request help or mutual aid assistance through statewide channels. When they are able, cooperatives provide voluntary crews and equipment to aid with restoration efforts. When a request is made, co-ops are quick to respond.
“It’s usually pretty short notice, and the crew doesn’t know how long they’ll be gone,” said Neal Mangels, Pioneer Electric operations supervisor.
Despite the unknowns, Mangels says there’s never a shortage of volunteers.
“You want to be able to return the favor for the times they’ve helped you,” said Crew Foreman Abel Diaz. “Plus you never know when we might need help here at home.”
Diaz and his crew recently returned from assisting Midwest Energy, Inc. The crew worked the days alongside others to restore power to Midwest’s members. The hours can be long, but Diaz says the time spent helping is worth it.
“When we’re on a mutual aid call, we all have the same goal — get homes back on,” said Diaz.
In 2020 and 2021, Pioneer Electric linemen responded to mutual aid calls from cooperatives in Kansas and Oklahoma. Pioneer Electric has also provided mutual aid to states as far away as Mississippi, after Hurricane Katrina. After a major storm with significant damage, help can come from crews near and far.
The heart of a volunteer beats with a desire to serve. Our crews are ready to dive in, get to work, and bring the power back, whether here at home or miles away. We strive to ensure our communities are energized for years to come, including communities that are not our own.
It’s a familiar image — a lineman climbing a utility pole as they work, but it is not as simple as one may think. The skill to climb poles and perform duties (sometimes nearly 40 feet up in the air) is unique to linemen; it requires physical and mental strength, great attention to detail, proper training and specialized equipment.
As warm weather approaches, it’s essential to keep the safety of line crews in mind. Attaching items like balloons, fliers and metal objects to utility poles poses a hazard for linemen who repair or maintain infrastructure. Items like nails or staples can interfere and cause damage to gaffs, clothing, and safety straps, another essential tool for climbing poles. Signs and items posted on utility poles can also impact the stability of utility poles over time and create distractions for drivers.
Linemen require various tools and equipment, all essential for doing their job safely: bucket truck, hard hat, rubber gloves, arc-rated clothing, gaffs that sink into the poles, and leg shanks that hold the gaffs in place. This specialized equipment allows our linemen to climb poles safely.
This summer, remember to avoid using utility poles as billboards. Find an alternative location for signs or post your event online to keep our crews’ work environment safe. Consider our poles and electrical structures our linemen’s office; keeping them clear allows them to work safely and continue to power our members.
Pioneer Electric will conduct a survey beginning Jan. 31 through Feb. 18 to gauge members’ interest regarding community solar projects. The survey is being conducted by the Nation Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) over the phone and through email. Phone calls could come from one of three area codes (844,712, 952).
Pioneer Electric is not currently implementing any solar projects. This survey is only meant to assess members’ interest in community solar. The survey will not include questions regarding members’ name, address or credit/debit card or banking information. Members with questions regarding the survey, its results or renewable energy may contact Pioneer Electric’s office by calling 1-800-794-9302.