Stepping In: Support During Supply Chain Issues
During challenging times, it’s beneficial to have a support system you can turn to for help. That’s true for individuals and electric power providers. In the past year, Tri-State has helped our member systems, as well as several utilities experiencing supply chain issues, including another generation and transmission (G&T) cooperative in the Midwest, a federal power marketing organization and an investor-owned utility.
One of the benefits of membership in Tri-State is our ability to leverage vendor relationships to secure hard-to-find materials in a timely manner. Our size also helps us buy in bulk at competitive prices. We can then support our members who may have challenges getting materials when needed at a price that is reasonable.
When we get a request for material help from a member system, which is a priority, or another utility, the Supply Chain Services department works closely with the Generation and Transmission departments to determine if we have the items requested and if so, if we can we prudently sell the items to the utility in need.
“I think our ability to help members in emergency situations when they are facing long supply chain lead times is a tremendous benefit of membership in Tri-State and it’s a great example of the cooperative spirit at work,” says Ashley Perkins, Senior Manager Supply Chain Services. Learn about the Seven Cooperative Principles.
Tri-State Steps In to Help Utilities Experiencing Supply Chain Issues
In the past year, Tri-State helped the following member distribution systems that were experiencing supply chain issues:
- Gunnison County Electric Association (Tri-State member in Gunnison, CO)
- Tri-State sent conductor and fittings in an emergency situation in July 2022.
- High West Energy (Tri-State member in Pine Bluffs, WY)
- Tri-State provided 12 surge arresters in an emergency situation in February 2023.
- White River Electric Association (Tri-State member in Meeker, CO)
- White River needed insulators in an emergency situation in May 2023. The insulators had a six-month lead time. Tri-State was able to provide six insulators.
- Mountain View Electric Association (Tri-State member in Limon, CO)
- Tri-State provided 35 fittings related to a new substation under construction in their service territory, reducing a delivery delay by seven months.
In addition, Tri-State was able to support other utilities in the region:
- Investor-Owned Utility
- Tri-State sent conductor for a major emergency outage in August 2022. The lead time on this conductor was 40-56 weeks.
- Federal Power Marketing Organization
- Tri-State sent multiple bus fittings in March 2023. This wasn’t an emergency, but it helped the organization keep its project schedule on track.
- Tri-State sent 12 socket eyes in April 2023 so a G&T in the Midwest could complete a project. There were long shipping delays on this particular fitting.
Resourcefulness During Severe Weather Events
Despite the severe storms that damaged multiple Tri-State transmission lines this summer, the cooperative didn’t need to request transmission materials from other utilities.
“We have many items in stock and where we haven’t, our engineers have been able to reimagine their plans to make what we had in stock work,” said Mark Dreyer, Tri-State Inventory and Asset Recovery Manager. “For Transmission, we have built-in storm stock material that has taken a hit with all these storms, but we also have seen some lead times fall and we’ve been able to get everything on order and should receive it soon. Our outlook is positive, but it would be great if Mother Nature would cooperate and limit the storms impacting our service territory.”
The Power of the Cooperative Model
When emergency situations impact our members, Tri-State responds immediately. Last winter a storm knocked out the local substation for 28 hours in Lake City, Colorado. The temperature dipped to 3 degrees at night, and power shut down across the town. Tri-State contacted Gunnison County Electric Association (GCEA), which jointly maintains the power station. We dispatched crews to repair our failed circuit switcher. When the crews couldn’t energize the circuit switch, Tri-State collaborated with partners to find a solution.
During the outage, GCEA restored power to a line through Lake City to Henson Street. This workaround provided power to critical infrastructure such as the medical center. Tri-State worked with the Colorado Department of Transportation to plow excess snow off Highway 50. This effort cleared the way to bring in a portable substation by truck, which restored power to 1,900 customers.
Tri-State will be there to equip member systems for success, whether that means finding a part in the supply chain or replacing a substation. These are the values of a cooperative--to help each other during tough times.
Tri-State is a not-for-profit cooperative of 45 members, including 42 electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts in four states, that together deliver reliable, affordable and responsible power to more than a million electricity consumers across nearly 200,000 square miles of the West. For more information about Tri-State and our Responsible Energy Plan, visit www.tristate.coop.