What do you get when you add labor shortages to material shortages in an economy recovering from a worldwide pandemic?
The answer? Supply chain issues.
Simply put, supply chain problems emerge when the availability of critical equipment and materials decreases as demand grows. It’s affecting us in the electric industry as more and more consumers rely on electricity to power new homes, businesses, and manufacturing facilities, as well as electric vehicles.
We at Marshall County REMC are concerned these shortages will impact our ability to provide safe, reliable and affordable electric to our members. Essential equipment and materials such as transformers, wire, poles, smart meters and even bucket trucks are in high demand and short supply. Not only are they difficult or — in some cases — impossible to get, but prices are skyrocketing. For example, we have had pad mount transformers on order since last October that, fingers crossed, will be delivered sometime in the first quarter of 2023.
Many of these critical supplies are needed not only to install new services and restore service when existing infrastructure is damaged during storms and auto accidents, but to perform necessary routine maintenance. Unfortunately, the impact of Hurricane Ian is a huge new concern since it will further deplete electric utility supplies.
Marshall County REMC is doing all it can to lessen the impact these supply chain issues could have on our members. One of the seven guiding co-op principles, “cooperation among cooperatives,” gives us a unique advantage over investor-owned utilities. We are in constant communication with Indiana Electric Cooperatives, our statewide service organization. Through IEC, Indiana’s 38 cooperatives can share information on what supplies each has and what supplies each needs. Additional steps we have taken locally include identifying equipment throughout our system that is not being utilized and using where needed, refurbishing older equipment, and keeping a much higher inventory of material as it becomes available to hedge against further supply chain issues.
So far, despite the supply change issues, we’ve been able to continue to meet members’ needs for new services and service upgrades. If you have an upcoming project scheduled in the next 12-24 months that will require Marshall County REMC’s involvement, contact us now to start the conversation and planning. The earlier notice we get, the more likely we will be able to secure the materials needed for your project.