Our Snowfall Strategy

January 11, 2022

 • BY Ron Holcomb

I hope 2022 is off to a great start for all of our members. Even those of you new to Indiana know it’s time to batten down the hatches against winter storms. That phrase originated with sailors weatherproofing ships ahead of driving rain by nailing wood (battens) over doorways and openings (hatches).

Tipmont’s tools exceed hammers, nails and wood. But we share these sailors’ strategic foresight in how we winterize our electrical system with the following practices and decisions:

Burying power lines

Tipmont continues to aggressively install new power lines below ground and convert aerial lines. Burying lines limits exposure to high winds, heavy trees and storm debris. Today, 35% of our lines are buried, and we’re increasing that every year. We also regularly replace underground cable at the end of its service life and prioritize converting aerial lines in areas prone to weather events.

Using the best materials

Copperweld wire was the early rural electrification standard. Our system maintains a good amount of modern and more reliable copper wire. But as replacement happens today, we use aluminum wire, which offers superior fortification against furious winter weather. Plus, all Tipmont poles are built for heavy loading in accordance with the National Electrical Safety Code.

Increased tree trimming

In 2017, Tipmont established a four- to five-year cycle of trimming trees to enhance right-of-way clearance for our electrical lines. By clearing limbs that could prove problematic in the winter, our overall service reliability has improved.

Two locations for linemen

Most co-ops only have one shop for linemen. Tipmont has two, in Linden and in Battle Ground. This is to serve the nearly 2,800 miles of electric line across our service territory. But if a blizzard strikes, pulling skilled workers from two shops enhances our all-hands effort to restore your service.

Real-time and save-time technology

Our Geographic Information System (GIS) dashboard gives those linemen real-time information from the field — eliminating middle-man phone calls and cutting the time required to resolve issues safely and effectively.

Automatic load-switching:

Tipmont has 20 electric substations that bring power to your homes and businesses. With the push of a button at our operations center, we can divert electricity from four of those substations — helping keep the lights on during winter weather isolated to parts of our service area. This year, we’re planning to add remote switch capabilities to even more substations.

Alongside our experienced crew of engineers and linemen, these are the ways in which Tipmont battens down the hatches … and always works to maintain your winter security, comfort and convenience.

Ron Holcomb

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Ron is a 30 year veteran of the electric utility industry with extensive experience in power supply, advanced grid technologies, essential service operations, economic development and value-driven growth initiatives for combined electric and telecommunication utilities. During his career, he has led three utilities as President/CEO and provided management consulting to utilities across the country. Ron joined Tipmont REMC as CEO in summer 2013. He holds a B.S. in Physics from Austin Peay State University and an MBA from Murray State University.
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