CEO Message — September 2021

Doing what we can, where we are able

scott peters headshotOur business is electricity…keeping the lights on for you, safely and efficiently! But if you know us at all, you know that we also make it our business to support the community in many ways. We have done a lot in terms of community support through the pandemic, and we continue to do so. We are currently going through all of the applications for the 2021 Columbia Rural Electric Association (REA) More Powerful Together Community Grant. At press time, we had received 19 applications and counting. Thank you to everyone who sent in their proposal!

As you also know, we have been steadfast in following our COVID-19 workplace safety measures. We continue those efforts as well, and believe me, we are as tired of the ongoing struggle as you are.

Another challenge we have all been feeling this summer is the active fire season. Columbia REA has been working hard to keep your power on and in some cases, your property safe. Our line crews have been redoubling their normal tree-trimming efforts in order to keep trees and limbs away from power. Crews are also installing new, more advanced reclosers in more fire-threatened areas. A recloser is basically a circuit-breaker that identifies an interruption or fault somewhere along the line and opens the circuit, which stops the flow of electricity. During normal operation, the recloser can then attempt to reclose several times in order to re-establish the flow of power. If the fault is still detected, the recloser stays open and power stays out.

Other electric utilities are also helping with fire damage in the region. Columbia REA joined crews from around the Pacific Northwest in Nespelem, Washington last month to help rebuild Nespelem Valley Electric Co-op’s system, which has been consumed by fire for the second year in a row. In five days, our Columbia REA crew helped replace more than 80 poles.

Locally, and on a smaller scale, thankfully, our crews are always ready to join forces with local firefighters to deal with the small grass fires in the area.

“We always keep our lines of communication open with 9-1-1 and local fire districts,” explains Jeff Murphy, Manager of Operations for Columbia REA. “When we hear of a fire that is near our facilities we send crews with our own fire suppression equipment to extinguish any pole fires.”

All of these efforts, from the tree-trimming and reclosers, to the actual work in the field in active fire areas, are just part of our commitment to our communities, to the safety of our members, and of course, to keeping the lights on for you.

Be safe, stay healthy.

Scott Peters, CEO