To view the December 2020 Board Meeting Agenda, click here.
To view the November 2020 Board Meeting Minutes, click here.
Those two words don’t seem adequate. In the wake of Hurricane Laura, most parts of our service territory were left sitting in destruction we haven’t seen in decades. On August 27, when the storm left our area after four hours of sustained 70-90 MPH winds, 98% of our meters had no electric service.
Restoration efforts began immediately, and we have many to thank for their help in that tremendous task. First, we would like to thank our employees for their unending loyalty and dedication to our cooperative and its members. They worked from before sunrise to well after dark for ten days, away from their families, and we are proud they wear a uniform with our logo on the chest. We would also like to thank our members for their help, their patience, and their support and provision during the outages and clean-up left by the storm.
We have so many others to thank. Local organizations stepped up to help provide services and supplies for us to do our jobs well. Contractors and crews from our sister cooperatives came from across the state and from other states to bring extra hands and a lot of equipment in order to help restore power to our members. The following is a list of the organizations, cooperatives, and contractors we would like to thank for their help:
Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives
Jeff Arnold and staff at ALEC
Aaron Graham, ALEC
Oklahoma Electric Cooperatives
Choctaw Electric Cooperative
Cotton Electric Cooperative
East Central Electric Cooperative
Rural Electric Cooperative
Arkansas Electric Cooperatives
ECHO Powerline, LLC
Sparks Energy, Inc.
Town of Farmerville – Works Department
Randy Wright – Fast Pak Catering
Claiborne Parish Schools
Claiborne Parish Police Jury
Union Parish Police Jury
Webster Parish Police Jury
Lincoln Parish Police Jury
Alpha Energy Services
Red Rock Rentals
Ol’ West Barbeque
Dwayne and Kyle Woodard
Claiborne Parish Sheriff Sam Dowies & Deputies
Lake D’Arbonne State Park
Shaun Kafka and Harris Baptist Camp
Coca-Cola Bottling Company
Rolling Hills Ministries
Louisiana Bridge, Inc.
Ridge Rentals, LLC
Big Star – Terry Morris
Dear Hometown Donuts
Homer Motor Supply
Paron Baptist Church
Mary Jane Pace
A message from the Manager, in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura
First and foremost, I would like to thank you for the overwhelming support we have been shown in the last three days in the wake of Hurricane Laura. I am astounded by our members, and I want you to know we appreciate you.
I also understand the complaints that have come in about being without electricity. It is hot and humid. Members are uncomfortable and greatly inconvenienced by the lack of electric service. Some believe there are no clear answers to questions related to restoration, adding to the frustration. I do understand. Let me take a moment of your time, not to make excuses but, to explain our dilemma.
In our current situation, we are unable to predict with any degree of accuracy exactly when most of our members will see their service restored. There are numerous reasons why. I’d like to share two.
Despite the fact that even before the storm hit, we brought in more assistance to help us in our restoration efforts, this storm is like no other we have experienced in the history of our cooperative. At no time have we ever suffered Category 1 hurricane force winds for four hours within our cooperative’s territory. At no time in our past have we experienced a storm that so completely covered our territory that, at one point in time, we had more than 98% of our meters without power.
We did plan ahead for this event. We knew the storm was coming and staged 12 full construction line crews here at the cooperative in advance of the storm. We also brought in 4 damage assessment crews to assist. We even brought in additional right-of-way crews to help us deal with clearing fallen trees and limbs. Once the storm was upon us, we made the decision to bring in even more crews to assist. In addition to our own personnel, we now have 20 full line construction crews on the job and another 3 right-of-way crews complete with bucket trucks working in this effort.
Even with the extra help, the going is slow. The damage is widespread and varied. In places it is mostly downed trees with power lines pinned under them. In others, poles and crossarms have been broken and must be replaced. We are making significant progress in bringing lights back to our members. As I write this note to you, we have fewer than 10,000 meters without power. That’s down from more than 23,000 initially. This is an unprecedented event for us.
We are faced with another problem in our restoration efforts, one in which we have absolutely no control. That is, we currently have no transmission service into 5 of our distribution substations. These substations represent more than 8,000 of the meters still without power. Without transmission service into a substation, there is no electricity to distribute to our members.
Entergy controls much of the transmission line in Louisiana, including the transmission lines that deliver power to our substations currently without service. We recognize Entergy was stricken with the same catastrophic weather event the entire state endured. We understand that maintaining and repairing these transmission lines is a monumental task. We still feel we are entitled to ask for these lines to receive priority treatment given the number of families and businesses affected, but we have absolutely no control of how they choose to prioritize their restoration efforts with regard to these lines they own.
We are not alone in our problems in receiving transmission service. They provide this service to most of the utilities affected by Hurricane Laura. We have complained to Entergy. We have filed complaints with our power supplier CLECO Cajun. We have even spoken with state officials regarding our problems. Entergy has been slow to respond, but they are beginning to make some progress.
Under normal circumstances, we would not mention problems we are experiencing with a neighboring utility. However, our members deserve answers to questions as to why it is taking so long to restore our members’ power. The two primary drivers of the time requirement are the unprecedented, damaging nature of the event and delays in receiving transmission service to many of our substations.
The combination of the two factors has made it difficult, if not impossible, to accurately predict when an individual member might receive service. This is the reason we have been reluctant to speculate estimated restoration times when members have called or messaged.
Please know that we are doing everything in our power to restore power to our members as safely and as quickly as possible. Our crews in the field and in the office are working from before 6 a.m. until after dark. Many of them are sleeping in homes that do not have power. They are getting the job done, and we are so appreciative of the patience and understanding of our members.
General Manager & CEO
Claiborne Electric General Manager and CEO Mark Brown has announced that the 2020 Annual Meeting has been canceled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The meeting had previously been postponed from April to July. Brown said as the July date drew near, the decision was made to cancel the meeting and not reschedule later in the year. At the July 1 meeting of Claiborne Electric’s Board of Directors, the official decision was made to cancel the meeting.
“We hoped that everything would line up, the virus would dissipate, and we would get to hold our meeting,” Brown said. “This is the biggest day of our annual work schedule. It’s the day we get to see so many members face-to-face and take care of important business. Currently, however, it just isn’t prudent to host an event of this size.”
Brown said that in discussions with officials at Louisiana Tech University’s Thomas Assembly Center, rescheduling the meeting for later in 2020 was not possible.
“We appreciate our friends at LA Tech and how hard they work for us every year. This is the perfect venue for our meeting, and we look forward to being back there in 2021,” Brown said.
At the 2020 meeting, members would have voted on important amendments to the Co-op’s bylaws. According to Brown, those amendments would increase transparency and participation in Board elections while simultaneously streamlining the process. He said those amendments will be presented at the 2021 Annual Meeting.
Although Brown said the decision to cancel the meeting was disheartening, he believes it is simply the best thing to do in the interest of the Co-op’s employees and members.
“This is the day where we traditionally try to show our members how much we appreciate them,” Brown said. “This year, we will demonstrate that above all, we value the health and safety of our members and employees. They are our friends and neighbors, and we want them safe and well.”
To view the May 2020 Board Meeting Minutes, click here.