From the Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC:
In 2021, the Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC will continue its focus on infrastructure improvement. These improvements are designed to improve system reliability and efficiency. The co-op remains committed to working through the challenges of operating safely during a pandemic while prioritizing member service.
Construction has begun on five miles of line replacement while working diligently to keep line crews safe by following CDC guidelines. The work on two additional miles of line will begin soon, with the co-op expecting to complete 15 additional miles of new line throughout the remainder of 2021.
This year, UDWI members can also expect to see a small decrease in their rates. The rate decrease is due to a slight drop in power supply costs from Hoosier Energy.
This is good news for members, as a household with an average use of 1,000 kWh per month would see their bill drop by $4.86 (3.3 percent) per month and an annual savings of about $58 per year.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer a rate decrease to our members, especially during the current pandemic,” said UDWI CEO Doug Childs. “This is the second rate decrease UDWI has achieved since 2018 which is a great accomplishment that was made possible by the hard work of the dedicated UDWI team.”
Major maintenance and construction activity taking place will focus on the most-aged lines that often contribute to outages. The co-op has more than 2,000 miles of line with approximately 50 percent that are in need of repair or replacement. Construction plans are focused on the 1,042 miles of copper lines that are over 60 years old in some areas of the service territory.
UDWI’s 2021 improvement plans also include new service-related construction activities. The cooperative’s average new service activity is up 11 percent over a seven-year average and is on pace to continue to grow in 2021. New service in the UDWI territory helps spread the cost of energy among more members and shows signs of a strengthening economy in the service area.
“Capital improvements continue to stay a top priority for UDWI as we continue to work toward improving service reliability for our members,” said Childs. “UDWI is addressing these challenges and working to stay on top of our system’s infrastructure maintenance.”
In addition to line upgrades, UDWI will continue to focus on pole replacements. UDWI regularly checks poles for decay and damage caused by exposure to the elements.
The 2021 UDWI capital improvement budget also allows for installing additional smart grid technology designed to reduce the frequency and duration of service outages. Smart Grid is a term for technologies installed to increase system visibility, improve efficiency, or improve reliability.
“Once development of the new smart grid technology is ready, we will complete a few installations that we’ve had pending and then begin creating a new automatic restoration area,” said UDWI Director of Operations Shane Smith. “This system will work to restore power to an area from a backup feed if the primary feed fails, which will help our members during outages.”
The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC, which is headquartered in Bloomfield, Ind., is an electric utility cooperative that serves nearly 16,000 members in Clay, Dubois, Daviess, Greene, Knox, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Owen, Sullivan and Vigo Counties and maintains over 2,000 miles of line.
Featured photo courtesy UDWI REMC