LOUISVILLE, Ky. (September 8, 2017) – As the southeastern United States braces for Hurricane Irma, Kentucky’s electric cooperatives are preparing to assist in power restoration efforts.
Between Saturday and Monday, an estimated 80 linemen from eight of Kentucky’s 24 local distribution electric cooperatives are deploying to electric cooperatives in Georgia who have requested help. More crews from other Kentucky cooperatives may also be deployed.
The top priority of each local Kentucky co-op is service to its own member-owners. Before committing resources to mutual aid requests, each co-op ensures it has ample crews available for all local needs, including routine maintenance and emergencies. In addition, Kentucky co-ops are closely monitoring the projected path of Hurricane Irma to assess whether it will potentially bring damaging winds to Kentucky, requiring recovery efforts here.
Kentucky co-ops had already released line construction and right-of-way contract crews to respond to Hurricane Harvey.
In addition, United Utility Supply Cooperative is also responding to Hurricane Irma needs. The Kentucky-based co-op has already shipped three truckloads of electric utility supplies to Alabama and is preparing its storm stockpiles in warehouses in five states.
Every co-op has an emergency plan, and part of that planning includes what is both a unique and an effective approach to emergency management and disaster recovery: mutual assistance. When disaster strikes, co-ops quickly deploy support staff and equipment to emergency and recovery zones to help sister co-ops restore power.
For instance, at the height of the recovery period in Kentucky’s 2009 ice storm, more than 1,100 electric co-op employees from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia assisted with restoration efforts. An equal number of contractor workers were employed. Furthermore, hundreds of additional employees from less-damaged Kentucky electric co-ops and municipal utilities assisted the highly-damaged Kentucky co-ops.
“Cooperation among cooperatives is one of our guiding principles for a good reason: It helps to make everyone’s jobs easier and make their lives better,” says Clarence Greene, director of safety and loss prevention at the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association providing services to each electric cooperative in the state.
Because the national network of transmission and distribution infrastructure owned by electric cooperatives has been built to federal standards, line crews from any co-op in America can arrive on the scene ready to provide emergency support, secure in their knowledge of the system’s engineering.
“We have always felt that what defines a co-op is reliability and family. In every corner of Kentucky we serve, we know our members and take care of them like family, and that expands to national electric cooperatives in times of need,” KAEC President Chris Perry said. “We are eager to help our co-op families in any way we can.
As of midday Friday, the following Kentucky electric cooperatives are planning to deploy linemen and equipment to assist electric cooperatives in Georgia:
Cumberland Valley Electric
Jackson Purchase Energy
Meade Co RECC
South KY RECC
West KY RECC
Kentucky electric cooperatives serve more than 1.5 million people—about 35% of the state’s population—in 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. The Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives provides representation before the Legislature, Congress, and regulatory bodies; safety training; coordination of management training; and public relations support including publication of Kentucky Living magazine. KAEC is governed by a board consisting of one manager and one director from each of its 26 member systems, and is headquartered in Louisville.