By Jafar Taghavi, CEO
This year, I am fortunate to celebrate a decade of service with Peninsula Light. In this first issue of Lights in 2018, it seems appropriate to look back on our accomplishments and look forward to the year ahead.
When electricity came to our society in the early 1900s, big investor-owned power companies bypassed rural areas such as ours. Peninsula Light was founded in 1925 when our neighbors worked together to bring electricity to Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula. Along with lighting for local homes, area chicken farmers knew that chickens laid more eggs with lights on in the hen house.
Almost a century later, electricity powers lifesaving medical equipment and e-commerce, and even charges our vehicles. Electrical reliability is more important than ever. With the full support of the board of directors, in 2007, I set a high goal for PenLight to achieve reliable service among the top 25 percent, or first quartile, of electric utilities nationwide.
Since our service territory includes rural areas, it was going to be a big challenge for our team to reach this standard. Yet the team at PenLight took this goal to heart. It took five years of capital investment into our network, as well as specific improvements in response technology during what can be hazardous conditions. I’m proud to say that since 2013, PenLight has consistently met and sustained its position in this first quartile of top reliability among our nation’s electric utilities.
Looking back, a few key elements helped us achieve our goal. Burying overhead lines is just one part of the solution. Tree wire—a specially coated power line—is far less costly to install and takes less time to troubleshoot during outages. Tree wire spans 20 percent of our above-ground network. Technology also plays a large role. Our crews now update outages from the field in real time using hand-held mobile devices and cellular technology.
Check out our new outage map (www.outages.penlightop.org), which provides important details about outage cause, time of restoration and number of meters without power.I am proud of our staff for its dedication to achieving—and maintaining—this first quartile of reliability. Hard work made this possible.
Looking forward, our future brings more opportunity to invest in and strengthen our energy network. We must keep pace as technology and community needs evolve. In the year ahead, you will see our crews installing more tree wire and performing other cost-effective maintenance and improvements. Further on the horizon, we are poised to deploy proven technologies that help detect, isolate and restore power faster.
Whether you work from home or in our community—or simply appreciate that power is available when you need it—these innovations will help us operate more efficiently and reliably. These improvements will also help us keep you informed when you have questions about your service.
As we look to the future, PenLight will continue exploring how to improve the quality of life in our community. On behalf of PenLight, and my whole team, I wish you a happy and healthy new year.