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Cozad, NE - Rural City Receives Industry Pioneer Award

Learn more about this here: Cozad Local Article Link

CozadThe City of Cozad and the Board of Public Works have been awarded an Industry Pioneer Award for their effort to improve the quality of life in Cozad via electric and sewer services.

In 2022, the Cozad Electric and Sewer Department participated in a pilot program by Fast Forward in Kearney.

The program included using a vehicle-mounted camera system to automate powerline patrol and GIS initiatives. The program’s goal was ultimately to reduce power outages and wildfires caused by powerlines.

According to Dusty Birge, one of the presenters of the award, the Fast Forward program enabled Cozad Electric and Sewer Departments to build an “initial GIS map for the city to better manage assets, while also discovering many anomalies which have since been repaired by Cozad staff.”

Birge added, “They [Cozad] have demonstrated an above and beyond commitment in providing reliable, cost-effective, and safe electricity to the residents of Cozad.”

After looking at the data from Fast Forward, the City of Cozad concluded that the savings and operational benefits of the inspections this program allowed them to do were so substantial that they would do them again. A second scan, following the initial Fast Forward program one, occurred in December 2023. Not only does issuing these recurring scans save $160,000, they also allow the City to discover anomalies that were not present in the initial scan.

The scanning uses thermal technology to detect anomalies or faults in the electrical grid and Birge stated, “The City of Cozad was to our knowledge the first city in the nation to complete a system-wide thermal inspection, leveraging our technology this was captured in just a day. This inspection isn’t required but was justified with cost savings and increased reliability and safety for the residents of Cozad. Midwest Electric Cooperative Corporation, a rural utility based in Grant, was also presented an award for being the first rural utility to scan their 3,000-mile system, with services in five different counties. This is a technology that works for both rural and urban systems and we’ve been able to prove substantial increases in reliability and productivity due to proactive and innovative organizations like Midwest Electric and the City of Cozad.”

Birge went on to say, “Many rural towns are considered flyover states for when new technology becomes available, we are very proud to have a local Nebraska rural town pioneer and lead the way.”

The US electric grid covers approximately six million miles of powerline and is considered, “the largest interconnected machine on earth, representing about 15% of the total powerlines globally” Birge and Fast Forward hope to help with the maintenance of this powerful system with their thermal scanning technology.

On Feb. 13, Birge presented the City of Cozad with the Industry Pioneer Award on behalf of Fast Forward. He remarked, “This is a big deal and something Cozad can be proud of.”