Ryan Welton

Sports + Digital + Music + Life

Tag Archives: OG&E

The story behind, “Dear OG&E,” & remembering the 2007 Oklahoma ice storm

0

We had ice in central Oklahoma today, but I’m not sure we can call it an ice storm. Back in 2007, we had an ice storm.

And it was an ice storm of epic proportions.

I was in my third year of work at the ABC affiliate in Oklahoma City, and I spent my days writing stories and sending out alerts via email — digital tactics that were pre-Facebook. It’s bizarre to think about. There were no push alerts. There was no Facebook really, yet. Not for anybody but college students. Definitely no Twitter, no Instagram, no Snap.

We just wrote stories, posted video and sent out a lot of emails to subscriber lists.

It was late November. Freezing temps and a big patch of moisture converged on the Sooner State, and we knew it was coming. It dropped a ton of freezing precipitation, enough that trees in Norman bent over quickly. Ultimately, the city of Norman lost a bunch of historic trees — and those trees pulled out a bunch of electricity meter boxes from the sides of homes.

Everybody in central Oklahoma was without power, some for days.

Others for weeks.

I didn’t have electricity for two weeks. The station put me up at the nearby Best Western on Santa Fe and 63rd in Oklahoma City. I spent so much time at that hotel over the years that it’s officially my most-visited hotel, although the Omni in Dallas comes close. Editor’s note: I love the Omni in Dallas. Best. Hotel. Ever.

The reason I didn’t have electricity for so long was because the fallen tree pulled out my meter box. My electricity provider was backed up with thousands upon thousands of power issues, and my neighborhood was super low priority.

But I got homesick quickly.

One night, I skipped the hotel and drove back to Norman, determined to sleep in my own bed. It was 26 degrees in my house because it was 26 degrees outside, and I had no heat. I slept in my winter coat and a hoodie and pants and sweats and probably a gorilla costume. It was so damned cold, but I was in my own bed, and I was thrilled.

I got up the next morning and took the world’s quickest shower.

The whole experience led me to write a song called, “Dear OG&E,” which I posted to my YouTube channel. It’s gotten 3,300 or so views over the years, and it got the attention of some of OG&E’s communications team, whom I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know over the years while I worked at Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores. Fantastic people.

What made the video, however, wasn’t me or my creativity or even the timing of the song with the storm. Nope. It was my late cat, Finley, who meowed on cue at the end of the tune. Her timing was impeccable.

So, as Oklahoma dealt with its dose of winter Tuesday (with me now at the CBS affiliate in Oklahoma City, I should note), I shivered and bemoaned the fact that it’s not baseball season yet.

However, I didn’t complain.

It could have been a whole lot worse. Believe that!

 

Lights flickering & dim? You probably have a partial power outage

1

So, a few nights ago, I get home and my AC won’t turn on. The fan turned on but the HVAC unit proper would not.

Bizarre, but I could survive. It was only 75 degrees inside, and it was projected to get cool that evening.

I called the good folks at Norman Heat & Air, and Brandy hooked me up with an appointment the next morning, a Saturday. They had come out a couple times before since my new HVAC installation this spring. They know me.

But then I noticed my lights slightly flickering. Weird. I thought I might be having an electrical problem of some sort. So, I turned my breakers off and back on.

My Pioneer stereo receiver started working properly, so there’s that! But now my lights weren’t just flickering; they were about to peter out altogether!


That’s when I googled a 24-hour electrician in Norman, Okla. I stumbled upon an answering service who in turn connected me with Mr. Electric, a local shop.

Their office manager, Denise, instantly texted me:

Mr Electric here. The head electrician said you should contact OGE first to see if their lines are good (that could cause the flickering). They may be able to do that from their office.

The “OGE” to which she’s referring is Oklahoma Gas & Electric, better known as OG&E in these parts. However, I wasn’t convinced of what she was telling me, so I asked for more details.

I wrote:

The lights were ON and lightly flickering. I turned the breaker off and on and now half the house is barely getting juice.

She replied:

Yes. There may be a leg coming from their pole to your house that is a problem. We have an emergency fee of $246 to come out.

The symptoms that you are describing are typical of losing half your power from OGE. OGE Will come and check their side of your power at no cost to you. That way if it is their problem they will fix it at no cost. If you need an electrician they will tell you

I took Denise’s advice and called OG&E, who promptly came to my neighborhood. Lineman named Jason. He was met outside by myself and a neighbor lady who had been watching coverage of the Las Vegas shootings and bemoaned her addiction to television.

Mine is to AC.

Alas, Lineman Jason got the problem solved. It was dropped phases from a connector on the transformer above a neighbor’s house. Half my house (and half of my neighbor’s) wasn’t getting proper power.

The whole ordeal cost me some time but no money. Lesson for anybody suddenly confronted with dim, flickering or partial lights — and a huge thanks to Mr. Electric for the help. Saved me $200!

%d bloggers like this: