Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 4
R M | C O O P E R AT I O N
photos courtesy SEMO Electric Co-op
Shotgun pellets from an irresponsible hunter pierced the armored jacket on this fiber optic line owned by SEMO Electric's GoSEMO Fiber.
Co-ops caution against shooting near fiber lines
responsible hunter never pulls the trigger
unless they are certain their action will not
harm people or property. But apparently
not all of those heading outdoors follow
this most important rule.
Increasingly, electric co-ops are seeing their
lines and other equipment damaged by careless
shooting, leading to dangerous situations, expensive repairs and lengthy outages for members. The
issue is especially troubling for those electric cooperatives providing fiber internet services.
"It's always been this way: You shoot a bird
on the wing, you don't shoot a bird on the wire,"
says Lynn Hodges, CEO of Ralls County Electric
Cooperative and its Ralls Technolgies fiber subsidiary. "I'm a sportsman too, I hunt. But some
people just don't think about it. What they have
to understand, as a lawful, ethical gun owner you
are responsible for the shots that you take. You are
also responsible for any damages that may occur
from that shot."
Damage to fiber lines spikes during dove season, which opens Sept. 1. The worst days are on
weekends when more hunters are in the fields and
repairs must be made on overtime.
"During a regular season we will experience
somewhere between a half dozen to a dozen outages related to a shotgun blast," Lynn says. "Shooting at these lines can result in possible physical
injuries, lawsuits for costly damages and possible
criminal prosecution for the shooter."
He says it's not unusual for damages from these
incidents to total $1,500 and it can go up, topping
$10,000 in some cases. "It is not fair for our mem-
RURAL MISSOURI | SEPTEMBER 2020
bership to subsidize repairs for that line when we
can identify who is responsible," he adds.
It can be difficult to locate damaged fiber lines.
At SEMO Electric's GoSEMO Fiber, one outage
caused by a shooter lasted from the evening well
into the next day.
"We went from 8:30 Wednesday evening and
it was not back on until 4 p.m. Thursday," says
Nathan Hull, adminstrator of fiber construction
for GoSEMO. "That's working nonstop, five hours
with six guys to replace it. People are working
from home, and this is very frustrating for those
depending on our internet to complete a job and
get paid on Friday."
Adds Lynn, "Fiber has become a critical infrastructure piece. With the dependency on these
internet connections and the ability to work from
home or do schoolwork, people squeal pretty hard
when it goes out. It is a terribly bad reflection on
the co-op when the system is out for 4 or 5 hours
while we make the repair. It reflects on the overall
consistency of the service we offer."
He urges landowners who let others hunt on
their land to point out where power lines are located and declare those areas off limits to hunting.
Shooting into a power line is bad enough. It
damages the wires and can cause problems that
will show up down the road. But damaging a fiber
line causes an immediate outage that will affect
many people, often including the shooter.
"It's embarrassing when you have to make a call
that you just shot your own fiber out," Lynn says.
"Hopefully it's just to themselves, and not the 400
residents who live past them."
Rural Missouri - September 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2020
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - Contents
Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 4
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Rural Missouri - September 2020 - Cover3
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