Author: kayla@craftedcomm.com

UDWI CEO, Doug Childs, Provides Update on Storm Restoration

From UDWI CEO Doug Childs:

“First and foremost, we share in your frustration and getting power restored is the most important issue facing us all. This storm produced straight line, 80-mph winds, similar to hurricane force winds, which resulted in some of the worst damage we’ve experienced in decades. 

We have 26 crews actively working to repair the hundreds of areas that are damaged. The number of people working on this outage is the most ever deployed in our territory and includes our entire team and all line crews, five neighboring cooperatives, two additional contractors and dedicated tree trimming crews. Crews are working 16-18 hours per day and will continue to do so until everyone is restored.

There is often no quick way to restore power, especially with the amount of broken poles, completely severed lines and debris we are facing.  We understand that everyone’s patience is wearing thin, and we realize the incredible inconvenience that you are weathering. Please know that repairs must be done methodically and safely, and we are working as quickly as we can.

We believe we will make significant progress today, but please be aware that we expect restoration and repair efforts to continue through Friday, June 28. 

We will continue to provide updates on our social media page and website. Please stay safe and know that we are sending help your way.”

UDWI REMC Gives Update on Storm Damage and Restoration

Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC would like to thank members for their patience as we work to assess damages and restore power as a result of the recent storm system. Line crews are out making repairs and working to restore power safely and efficiently. We’ve also called in assistance from other co-ops, as well as tree and line contractors, and we thank those crews for their willingness to help as our crews have worked through the night and continue to be in the field.

At this time, we do not have estimated restoration times due to the volume and severity of the weather-related outages. Please know we are working hard to get all members on as quickly as possible, while keeping our crews safe as they work in these conditions. The damage is extensive across our service territory, and we still have over 5,000 members without power as of 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26. Currently, we have over 20 broken poles and anticipate finding more as the day continues. Outages caused by broken poles can take three hours to replace, in addition to the time spent returning to headquarters to get the necessary equipment.

As a reminder, members can report an outage by calling the UDWI office (812-384-4446), using the UDWI app (UDWI REMC in the App Store and Google Play Store), or via UDWI’s texting service. During a large storm situation, please be sure to use one of these options instead of reporting through Facebook to help ensure our dispatch team sees your outage. Comments and messages during this time can be hard to track due to the large quantity. Dispatch is also working hard to update the Outage Management System which has been overloaded throughout the night and some areas may be experiencing glitches.

We share in your frustration as our employees, line crews, their families and our entire community feel the impact of this storm and many of us are still without power as well. Thank you again for your patience and understanding, and please be safe!

UDWI REMC Passes Resolution for Redistricting

BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (June 25, 2024) — The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC Board of Directors passed a resolution to redefine districts in its service territory during its June board meeting.

Districts and their associated board seats are mandated by the cooperative’s bylaws to give members local representation on the UDWI Board of Directors. Also mandated, is a periodic review of the districts and the number of members represented in each to determine if there is a need for any changes.

The last review was conducted in 2018 and no changes were made that year. The current bylaws state that this redistricting review should take place every six years and within 90 days of the last annual meeting, which was held in April 2024.

This year’s review found that the number of UDWI members in each district varied greatly and were not evenly distributed. This is due to fluctuations in population and new or changing developments in housing. In addition, the current district boundaries often divide townships resulting in two directors representing areas that are traditionally served in whole by other services such as water, sewer as well as police and fire departments.

Historically, Districts have been based on UDWI’s internal power map grid, which is not publicly available and can cause confusion on meter locations and the way districts are defined. Now, with updated CIS/GIS technology there is more data available, allowing UDWI to use existing boundaries such as county and township lines.

UDWI serves around 16,000 members across its territory and the current eight districts range from the least populated district with 1,600 members to the most populated district with nearly 2,400 members. The updated districts will balance the number of members; seven districts will now each represent about 2,300 members each and greatly balances the representation across the service territory.

“Our board studied the data over the past couple of months and have determined that the current distribution of our members supports this redistricting, which hasn’t been updated since 2008,” said Board of Directors President Edward Cullison. “We also know that aligning districts along townships lines will help the UDWI staff members working with the public and providing service to our members.” 

The new boundary lines will allow members to easily identify their board member and help operations and customer service staff to easily identify specific areas of each district when working with those members requesting information or additional services. This latest redistricting will not affect the election cycle for new directors, and UDWI members will continue to have the opportunity to vote for board member candidates across all districts during the annual meeting process.

The updated Board of Directors and districts are detailed in the table below. Additionally, updated district maps can be found on the cooperative website at udwi.com.

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Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC (UDWI REMC) located in Bloomfield, Ind., is an electric utility cooperative that serves nearly 16,000 members in Clay, Daviess, Greene, Knox, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Owen, Putnam, Sullivan and Vigo counties and maintains over 2,000 miles of line.

UDWI REMC welcomes new board member and gives year-end review and a look ahead at 2024 annual meeting

BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (April 26, 2024) — The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC held its 88th annual meeting Wednesday at the cooperative’s headquarters and renewed its slate of officers for its Board of Directors.

One new director, Terry McDaniel, replaces incumbent Dax Collins for District 7 and joins the eight-member board, which includes Edward Cullison (President), Melinda Hendrix (Vice President), David Kirkling, Todd Carpenter, Shawn Dugan as well as Michael Williams, District 5 (Treasurer) and Sophie Haywood, District 8 (Secretary), who were both re-elected for their third terms.

“I am thrilled to be elected and excited to serve the people of my area along with all of the members of UDWI. I look forward to learning more about the most important issues facing the cooperative and contributing to future success,” said McDaniel. “Our annual meeting had so much great information and positive updates. I was very happy to see that improvements in tree-trimming and technology are lowering the number of outages, and that despite the conditions that crews work in while they are restoring power, they have an outstanding safety record.” 

Although two of this year’s seats were uncontested, the cooperative bylaws require candidates receive a mandated number of votes from the membership in order to validate the election. UDWI members had the opportunity to cast their votes online or by mail before the annual meeting or in person during the event, which again produced strong voter participation with just under 1,800 votes cast, accounting for more than 10 percent of UDWI members.

CEO Doug Childs’ annual meeting presentation focused on ‘Measuring the Past, Building the Future’ and covered a variety of topics including safety and training, reliability and member service, fiber expansion, and community support.

UDWI employees completed over 2,000 hours of safety and job skills training in the past year and conducted eight public electrical safety training events. The cooperative also announced a commitment to 100 percent participation in safety training for employees in the coming year along with eight additional safety training events, with a focus on first responders.

“We are committed to working with our first responders and offering training to keep them safe,” said Childs. Our crews often work alongside police, fire and ambulance crews during an emergency, but we want to ensure that when we aren’t on site that they have the knowledge to protect them and the public.”

This past year UDWI continued its work to manage vegetation along powerlines, with 426 miles of powerline trimmed and cleared. Crews also replaced more than 800 poles and built 13 miles of new power lines to replace sections of aging and outdated lines. These improvements resulted in less outages and shorter durations for outages than in previous years.

An expanded and enhanced outage notification system was also implemented in 2023. The system is quicker and more responsive with new texting options and additional information on the online outage map such as the status of crews, duration of outage, and when possible, the cause of the outage. Additionally, a new handbook is now available at the cooperative and online that provides information for all of the services, payment options and benefits for UDWI members.

Childs also reported on the cooperative’s continued collaboration with leaders at WestGate@Crane Technology Park in anticipation of micro-electronics companies coming to the area. UDWI is planning for increased power supply needs as well as special economic rates for new commercial customers. Additionally, UDWI is adding partnerships to expand fiber options throughout the entire service territory. With agreements already underway with Smithville and SCI, UDWI announced earlier this month that it will partner with Mainstream Fiber Networks to implement the largest-to-date fiber expansion effort for the area for over the next five years.

Top priorities for the cooperative in 2024 will focus on the replacement of aging infrastructure, vegetation management and improving reliability. The cooperative plans to replace 35 miles of line in 2024, and expand the use of smart grid technology, which helps prevent outages by identifying potential problems in real time and digitally relaying information to the UDWI operations team.

“Our line crews, employees and board continue to put in the hard work and it is a privilege to get to work with this group of skilled, dedicated people. I want to thank each of them for their commitment to our members,” said Childs. “Our linemen worked more than 7,000 hours of overtime last year, often in the worst conditions to restore power, and it does not go unnoticed. We have an aggressive plan in 2024 for installing new lines, making repairs, and overall improving our system and we will reach our goals with this team.”

Childs also shared the co-op’s commitment to its community. In 2023, UDWI’s Community Fund awarded over $61,000 across 35 charitable organizations throughout the cooperative’s service territory. The group prioritizes funding charities that feed the hungry, veterans’ organizations, libraries, churches and schools in UDWI’s 11 counties. In addition, UDWI was able to issue more than 10,000 capital credit checks, returning over $835,000 to its members. 

Childs’ complete presentation is available on the UDWI website. The Board of Directors will hold its first meeting of the new term on Monday, May 20 at 6:30 p.m.

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Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC (UDWI REMC) located in Bloomfield, Ind., is an electric utility cooperative that serves nearly 16,000 members in Clay, Daviess, Greene, Knox, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Owen, Putnam, Sullivan and Vigo counties and maintains over 2,000 miles of line.

Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC Partners with Mainstream Fiber Networks to Expand Rural Broadband Access  

 BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (April 16, 2024) — The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC and Mainstream Fiber Networks announced today their partnership in the largest fiber project for the cooperative’s service territory. 

As part of the partnership, Mainstream will focus on establishing broadband connections to unserved and underserved areas within UDWI’s service area, specifically taking a county-wide approach. UDWI will provide advice and assist Mainstream in determining strategically located fiber backbones for broadband projects, which will then connect at least 80 percent of residents and businesses in the area. 

“At Mainstream, we believe that access to reliable internet is not just a luxury but a fundamental necessity for participation in today’s digital economy,” said Mainstream CEO Brian Gabriel. “By extending our reach into rural communities, we are not only unlocking new opportunities for economic growth and innovation but also fostering greater inclusivity and equality of access. This collaboration with UDWI embodies our commitment to bridging the digital divide and empowering every individual with the transformative potential of connectivity.” 

Mainstream will also work on behalf of UDWI to secure broadband development grant funding through federal and state government programs. 

“This strategic partnership will allow Mainstream and UDWI to utilize the electric distribution infrastructure already in place to significantly reduce the cost of building a fiber network,” said UDWI CEO Doug Childs. “This project will substantially improve the quality of life for all of our members, and confirms our dedication to finding efficient pathways to increase fiber access across our service territory.” 

According to Mainstream, construction could begin as early as the second quarter of 2024. Each backbone project will be completed within a year. The entire project is anticipated to take about five years to complete. 

More information on Mainstream can be found at www.msfiber.com. To learn more about UDWI REMC, visit www.udwiremc.com. 

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About Mainstream Fiber Networks Founded in Nashville, Indiana, Mainstream Fiber Networks is a Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) internet service provider that understands the need for affordable, high-speed internet in Indiana’s rural communities. Mainstream’s success is based on its customer satisfaction and its partnership with the local communities we serve. To learn more, visit www.msfiber.net. 

Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC (UDWI REMC) located in Bloomfield, Ind., is an electric utility cooperative that serves nearly 16,000 members in Clay, Daviess, Greene, Knox, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Owen, Putnam, Sullivan and Vigo counties and maintains over 2,000 miles of line. 

UDWI REMC, SCI REMC connect members in Phase One of fiber partnership

BLOOMFIELD and MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (Aug. 8, 2023) – The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC (UDWI) and South Central Indiana REMC (SCI REMC) fiber partnership is ready to connect the first group of homes and businesses in the north-central portions of UDWI’s territory.

In 2021, the two companies began working together to bring gigabit broadband internet service to around 200 unserved homes in the Freedom, Indiana area. A project map of the specific service boundaries can be viewed below. Those located in the service area are encouraged to sign up for SCI’s broadband services if they have not already.

“We are grateful for SCI’s collaboration on this initiative and hope to see even more opportunities for fiber partnerships emerge as we all continue to recognize the need for connectivity in our rural areas,” said UDWI CEO Doug Childs. “Providing members with access to high-speed, reliable internet is a top co-op priority.”

SCI REMC leveraged existing middle-mile fiber assets and partnered with UDWI to attach to their existing pole plant, allowing SCI to provide internet service in the most economical and expedient manner possible.

In 2020, Indiana announced the second round of the Next Level Connections Broadband grant program, which awarded $51 million for 50 broadband infrastructure expansion projects across the state. SCI REMC was awarded two grants from the program and utilized one of those grants to assist in building fiber in this joint venture. This partnership is expected to expand to additional unserved homes and businesses in the future.

“SCI REMC understands the positive impact of affordable, reliable, high-speed internet on rural communities, and we are proud to be working with UDWI on this initiative,” said James Tanneberger, president and CEO of SCI REMC. “We are grateful for the funding opportunities that have made this project possible and look forward to connecting the first UDWI members very soon.”

To verify service availability for a specific address, members can visit https://join.sciremc.com. If the address is not currently eligible, SCI will collect the member’s contact information and alert them as soon as the service is available.

In addition, members in areas not included in this fiber partnership are encouraged to apply to the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs Indiana Connectivity Program, which aims to connect residents and businesses that lack access to broadband internet service with service providers and assist in the expense of extending broadband to those locations. Owners of residential and business locations unserved or underserved can apply for consideration by entering their information into the Next Level Connections portal to initiate their interest in receiving broadband internet service. More information is available on OCRA’s website.

For more information about UDWI and SCI’s fiber partnership, visit UDWI’s website.

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About Utilities District of Western Indiana (UDWI) REMC: Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC is a non-profit organization engaged principally in the distribution and sale of electricity in Greene and parts of Clay, Daviess, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Owen, Putnam, Knox, Sullivan, and Vigo counties in Indiana. For more information, please visit  https://www.udwiremc.com/.

About South Central Indiana (SCI) REMC: SCI REMC (South Central Indiana REMC) is a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative in south-central Indiana serving over 29,000 homes and businesses in Morgan, Monroe, Owen, Brown, and parts of Putnam, Clay, and Johnson counties. SCI REMC was established in 1939 and is owned and operated by the members they serve.

SCI Fiber was launched in 2018 and offers residential and business telecommunication services. SCI Fiber has nearly 10,000 subscribers with 2,269 miles of mainline and distribution fiber in place. For more information, please visit www.sciremc.com.

1666 West State Road 54
Bloomfield, Indiana 47424

Hours:  Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Office: (812) 384-4446
Toll-Free: (800) 489-7362
©2021 Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC. Member-Owned. Member-Focused.