This has been a year of big things. A global pandemic disrupted life and work as we know it. We’ve lost those we love, and we’ve made big sacrifices along the way. But, in the enormity of it all, I’ve found it’s the small things that help most with clarity of mind and spirit.
Several of these small things are impossible without electricity. Binge watching your latest favorite show. The soft glow of your child’s planetary system nightlight keeping them safe, secure and – best yet – sleeping through the night. A morning ritual making rich, hot coffee that instantly sets the course for a cozy day, no matter the freezing weather outside.
These things, though seemingly insignificant, are our lifelines to sanity. They improve the quality of our lives. They improve the quality of our moods! And, they are made possible with reliable electricity.
Our teammates don’t take NPPD’s tagline of “Always there when you need us” lightly. So, when it comes to any opportunity to provide mutual aid to utilities laboring to repair systems ravaged by Mother Nature, and experiencing extreme or widespread power outages, the NPPD team is quick to volunteer their help. It’s just one of public power’s many strengths.
NPPD’s vision speaks to improving others’ quality of life. Whether a line crew, accountant, environmental specialist, shop technician or plant operator, all our teammates work behind the scenes to ensure reliable electricity that helps folks live their lives as effortlessly and comfortably as possible. We are not just a utility, and electricity isn’t a mere commodity. We are people who care for the health and welfare of others and want to make a difference in the communities in which we live and work – and oftentimes, beyond them.
Case in point: Our crews set out to provide mutual aid twice this past month – once south to Oklahoma and once east to Walthill, Nebraska – to assist in early season ice storm damage repair.
More than 320,000 Oklahoma Gas & Electric customers were out of power when we responded to the call as a member of the Midwest Mutual Aid Group that coordinates power restoration support from various electric utilities following outages caused by natural disaster. Fourteen teammates from 10 of our facilities across the state took to the road for 10 days in and around Oklahoma City. Likewise, a nine-person crew traveled to Walthill to assist Burt County Public Power District with their own outage repairs, as tree limbs and power lines remained iced over days after the initial storm hit.
In Oklahoma, some folks were without power for more than nine days. The food in their refrigerators was spoiled. Their patience was frayed, and their hope for a quick restoration – especially amid an already trying year – was rapidly dwindling.
Therein lies the power of these mutual aid efforts. We are not just restoring power. We are restoring hope, joy and livelihoods. This is where the small stuff really does become big stuff.
Vice versa, supporting others can help a big world feel small. During the restoration efforts, I had several former Nebraskans, many with ties to NPPD, reach out to acknowledge the positive impact our crew’s work in Oklahoma had on their own lives.
One of them was none other than retired President and CEO Ron Ache, whose daughter is a veterinarian in Minnesota who belongs to a Veterinarian-Mom Facebook group. In the group, she saw a post from a friend living near Edmond, Oklahoma, who had been without electricity for more than five days. NPPD’s crew got her lights back on, and she was quick to express words of appreciation within the group, as well as post pictures of the team hard at work. Her kindness made its way back to us and lifted my own spirits during a particularly tough week.
Within the post, the woman said, “It is not lost on me that these people are away from their families on Halloween! 2020 has been beyond difficult for all of us, and I’ve struggled to find the good some days, but today, I saw people helping strangers, and it was really heartwarming.”
The sight of our orange bumpers rolling into neighborhoods garnered a host of other positive responses and genuine appreciation on social media from two states away. They are so uplifting, I want to share a few with you below:
Our NPPD family was equally appreciative to those in Oklahoma for their kindness and hospitality.
At the end of the day, I know the long hours, the COVID implications that required new safety measures in place during restoration efforts, and the time away from family dull in comparison of the possibility for our crews to make a positive impact on the lives of others. And therein lies the very nature of our mission to provide safe, low-cost, reliable, and sustainable electricity and provide outstanding customer service. In particular, ensuring reliability requires a team of more than 380 folks across the state who work throughout the year to properly maintain our power line infrastructure in our own service territory to mitigate outages no matter the weather or circumstance.
Plugging in the twinkling lights on your Christmas tree or listening to your favorite music station while cooking may seem like small pleasures, but when you think about the dependency of electricity to power many of your everyday activities, these tiny actions add up extensively.
From our NPPD family to yours, we are proud to help power not just the special moments in your life, but every moment in between.
If you’re an NPPD customer and you experience a local outage this winter, report the outage by calling 1-877-275-6773 or through our mobile app, NPPD ON THE GO!, which you can download at https://nppd.com/mobile-app. Remember, stay away from all downed power lines, consider them live, and do not attempt to move them.