2 days, 2 outages have Tideland warning farmers to watch for lines

Published 7:52 pm Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Two incidents in the past few days had Tideland EMC reaching out to warn farmers to watch for wires.

On Monday, power was cut to 565 members on the Gaylords Bay circuit; Wednesday morning, 959 Tideland members lost power on the Engelhard circuit. Both incidents were resolved quickly; both were caused by incidents of farm machinery tangling with electrical wires.

“In both cases, it brought wire down, but everybody’s safe and sound,” said Heidi Jernigan Smith, manager of economic development, marketing and corporate communications for
Tideland Electric Membership Corporation.

Smith said the text message was sent as a reminder to those operating heavy machinery to be aware of where lines are located.

“It’s inevitable, every harvest season, we see it. After today, and the incident yesterday, we went ahead and sent that text message out to 11,000 numbers,” Smith said.

She said it’s not just a matter of members losing power, but a matter of safety for those operating the heavy machinery.

“They tend to all know. They report it and you either sit tight or get out of harm’s way. You don’t get out of the tractor, because if the line is energized, if they step out of the tractor and put one foot on the ground, they’ll be electrocuted. We worry about the ones who don’t know,” Smith said.

She said loggers and farm equipment tend to be most often involved in these types of accidents — cotton harvesting is currently in progress. In most cases, machinery cuts through the guy wire, used to stabilize and secure utility poles, but when that tensioned cable is sliced, it can spring back and hit live lines.

It’s a dangerous and potentially costly situation, she said.

“And the bad part about it is whoever causes the accident, they get the bill,” Smith said.