Kentucky electric co-ops deploy over 100 workers to help in Hurricane Michael recovery

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LOUISVILLE (October 11, 2018) –  As Hurricane Michael makes its way across several lower southeast states, it continues wreaking havoc and leaving thousands without power.  Crews from 17 Kentucky electric cooperatives are on their way to Georgia to help with power restoration efforts.

Thursday morning, just one day after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida, the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives deployed 80 lineworkers, including construction crews, service crews and support staff, to assist in recovery.

There are now over 100 workers in Georgia and Virginia. On Monday, crews from Jackson Purchase Energy and West Kentucky RECC, left to help with restoration efforts in Virginia.

Kentucky electric cooperatives from across the state have offered their help and support. Crews from Blue Grass Energy, Clark Energy Cooperative, Farmers RECC, Fleming Mason Energy, Gibson Electric Membership Cooperative, InterCounty Energy, Jackson Energy Cooperative, Jackson Purchase Energy, Licking Valley, Kenergy Corp., Owen Electric Cooperative, Pennyrile Electric, Salt River Electric, South Kentucky RECC, Tri-County Electric, Warren RECC and West Kentucky RECC sent crews to aid in relief efforts.

South Kentucky RECC CEO Dennis Holt says SKRECC’s contract crews were released prior to the storm making landfall to be in place to deal with the turmoil left by Hurricane Michael.

“In addition to the crews, South Kentucky RECC has sent several pieces of much-needed equipment including several digger trucks, large bucket trucks, and small bucket trucks. These crews will assist at Middle Georgia EMC, if needed, or will transfer to a location that they are needed.”

Jackson Energy line techs loaded up their trucks and headed south to Flint Energies in Georgia to help with repairs from Hurricane Michael. JEC’s Superintendent of Operations Tim Wilson and Chief Operations Officer Derrick Dean met with the crews at the London District Office before they left.

Middle Georgia EMC serves approximately 4,200 members, and their Senior Vice-President Mike McGee says the assistance is very welcome.

“We at Middle Georgia are extremely thankful for the assistance from South Kentucky RECC. At this point, we just don’t know how much damage we may sustain, but here they are forecasting 150-mile-per-hour winds. We appreciate South Kentucky RECC for leaving their daily duties and making the drive here to help restore our members from damage from Michael.”
The top priority of each local Kentucky co-op is service to its own consumer-members. 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.

Inter-County crew

“Cooperation among cooperatives is one of our guiding principles,” said Clarence Greene, KAEC Safety and Loss Prevention Director. “These deployments are long hours in challenging conditions, but lineworkers are wired to help people. Mutual aid deployments also provide invaluable training opportunities they may not get in their respective area.”

One year ago, 131 Kentucky co-op workers helped restore power in Georgia after Hurricane Irma. The largest mutual aid deployment in Kentucky co-op history came in 2016 when 143 lineworkers responded to Hurricane Matthew.

Because the national network of transmission and distribution infrastructure owned by electric cooperatives is 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.

Providing critical materials

In response to Hurricane Michael, Kentucky-based United Utility Supply Cooperative is loading a tractor-trailer with utility supplies for use by affected electric cooperatives in Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

With its main warehouse and headquarters at 4300 Champions Trace in Louisville, UUS also has warehouses in several other states, including Alabama. UUS personnel will assist with the delivery of critical supplies to affected co-ops.

UUS has implemented its storm emergency plan, providing round-the-clock support to meet the material needs of co-ops affected by Hurricane Michael.

In advance of the hurricane, UUS also made pre-storm deliveries to cooperatives in Alabama.