On average last year, Tipmont REMC electric service was active 99.97% of the time. Being that close to 100% is certainly a point of pride, but the .03% affords us opportunities to investigate and improve. It’s enlightening to review and recap our electric reliability data year to year. It helps us determine outage causes and patterns, as well as make data-driven decisions to continue enhancing your electric reliability.
In 2021, our top three electrical outage causes were trees and wildlife, weather, and equipment failure. These causes are generally consistent with most years, going back all the way to 2012. Weather doesn’t always turn up here. However, as some of those late-summer storms showed, Mother Nature was a little wilier in 2021 — prompting a 300% increase in weather-related outages over 2020. About one-quarter of our equipment-failure outages were related to natural decay or aging of material.
We also measure Member Outage Minutes, or the total number of minutes in a year when members do not have service. In 2021, we saw a 32% increase of Member Outage Minutes from 2020 — largely due to abnormal numbers of outages at our Mountain Road substation in eastern Montgomery and western Fountain counties. The culprit? An unusual increase in activity from area wildlife.
From time to time, our squirrel friends grow curious about electricity. In a nutshell, that curiosity often comes at the expense of your service. Our engineers put their time and talent toward finding ways to keep the wildlife out and your lights on. They measured substation clearances in areas that were at higher risk of wildlife making connections that could cause an outage. Then, they compared those clearances to animal sizes. That gave us a span of energized areas at Mountain Road that needed additional animal guards, which we have purchased and installed. We’re also proactively measuring other substations to take proper courses of action.
Electric reliability consistently ranks among the top important service aspects in our member survey responses. We’ll continue to work tirelessly to deliver on that promise and empower our communities with the essential service of electricity.