Claremore Power and Light was again recognized for outstanding achievement in electric operations and reliability.

However, the June award from the Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma recognizes a separate aspect of the department’s reliability than that which was awarded by the American Public Power Association in May.

For Oklahoma cities with a population over 10,000 that run a public electrical service, Claremore was one of three recognized for having in Average System Availability Index of 99.9931.

In laymen’s terms, Claremore’s electrical customers had power 99.99 percent of the time in 2018.

“In other words, the lack of outages,” Claremore Electric and Utilities Director Larry Hughes said.

According to outage records, Claremore had a total of 433 outages with a little over one interruption per customer over the course of the year. This number does not include scheduled maintenance where homeowners were given advanced notice of an outage.

The number one known cause, unsurprisingly, squirrels.

“Squirrels are one of the number one causes in the entire country,” Hughes said. “People don’t believe that but it is the truth.”

Other common causes are trees, equipment failures, storms, birds, assorted wildlife and human error.

There are also a significant number of unknown outages.

“There have been times where we didn’t find the problem initially. We just restored the power and moved on, marking it as unknown,” Hughes said. “A little bit later, especially if it happens during the day, we get a call from an address just down the block from the outage and come to find out it was a squirrel that got into that transformer that blew that one and a main fuse down the road.”

“In reality some of these unknowns actually turn into a squirrel, a tree, snakes, raccoons,” Hughes said. “You’d be amazed at what we’ve seen on top of transformers or in pad mounted transformers.”

The average restoration time for a power outage is 37 minutes, which is the metric on which the May award was won.

On presenting the award to Claremore Power and Light, MESO General Manager Tom Rider said, “It’s important, we believe, for cities to maintain accurate records to measure their reliability and productivity. Through ongoing review of operations of cities in the four-state region, we find over time which systems have continuous excellence in construction standards and distribution automation. Claremore Power and Light not only has taken many steps to maintain reliability, but continues to invest in system improvement.”

“We’ve improved things dramatically in the last handful of years,” Hughes said.

Some improvements Hughes noted have been the retention and continuous training of qualified linemen, more preventative maintenance, and a thorough record keeping system.

“The current operational standards and employee training standards of this utility are superior,” Rider said. “This training and development of staff and increased funding for reliability resulted in the continued excellent performance of the utility. Local control means local crews. That means fast response. And fast response means less outage time.”