The Christmas Ice Storm

Todd-Wadena’s tracked bombardier proved useful to the outage repairs.

Cooperation among cooperatives is one of the seven principles and one that Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative (TWEC) is proud of. When in need, we know we can call upon our sister co-ops for assistance and they can do the same. That’s just the cooperative way. 

On December 28th, 2023, TWEC Operations Manager Tyler Fisher reached out to Chuck Ames, Design & Construction Supervisor at Cass County Electric Cooperative out of Fargo, ND, to offer our assistance. Over Christmas, North Dakota was hit hard with freezing rain. This created substantial outages with ice coated wires and broken poles for co-ops all over eastern North Dakota. “I saw the news, and since we didn’t get hit with the weather they did, I knew they would need help. They were really in need of a track vehicle to help restore outages. Thankfully, we have a bombardier with tracks in our fleet,” said Fisher.

Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative was lucky to not have received the weather that hit our sister cooperatives to the west. Offering assistance to co-ops in need is the cooperative way. “Looking at the forecast for our area, I felt confident in being able to send a couple of crews,” Fisher notes. 

Todd-Wadena sent two crews, totaling four lineworkers. That left Todd-Wadena with five lineworkers back home to attend to daily work, outages, and any storms that may arise. Crew Chief Jon Grenier, along with lineworkers Jason “Norm” Ohrmundt, David Snyder, and Brayden Gwiazdon headed to North Dakota to assist Cass County Electric Cooperative (CCEC).  

The Todd-Wadena crew spent eight and a half days in North Dakota with time spent in Kindred, Lisbon, Valley City, Arthur, Hope, Page, and the Casselton areas. “The continuous long days are challenging, but also rewarding,” said Ohrmundt, one of the TWEC lineworkers sent to North Dakota. The crews would arrive at the CCEC shop at 6 a.m. each morning for a safety meeting, then they would receive their work orders for the day. They planned to be back at the shop around 9 p.m. each night. Safety is a top priority in this line of work, and with more than 100 lineworkers helping out CCEC, they were proud to report that with approximately 20,000 working hours during this storm restoration, there were zero OSHA reportable accidents, and minimal damage to their equipment. 

The Todd-Wadena crew’s days consisted of setting new poles after the ice storm had knocked them down. After the line was grounded, the TWEC crew would knock the ice off of the lines (see photo to left), and use the same lines on newly set poles. The guys from TWEC set just under 80 new poles during their stint in North Dakota.  Weather conditions and brutal North Dakota winds made their time interesting. The guys worked in muddy fields, sloughs, and snow-covered ditches to set new poles to help the members of Cass County Electric Cooperative. 

Even though they were long days, the TWEC crew was happy to help. “The people around there were nice and happy to see us,” said Ohrmundt. “They knew when they saw our trucks, it was only a matter of time until their power was restored.”

Stats from Cass County Electric Cooperative

CCEC’s Christmas Ice Storm of 2023 caused outages for approximately 11.5 days, and just under 1,200 poles on the ground. CCEC had around 120 linemen who put in over 20,000 working hours with zero OSHA reportable accidents to restore power to all essential accounts by Friday, January 5th (from their Facebook page)