More than 160 personnel and contractors head to Louisiana
More than 160 personnel and contractors from electric cooperatives in Kentucky are providing mutual aid to help restore power in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida.
In addition to more than 40 employees from five electric cooperatives in Kentucky responding to DEMCO, an electric cooperative in the Greater Baton Rouge area, co-ops have also released more than 120 contractors to deploy to areas ravaged by the storm.
“The catastrophic damage to electric infrastructure caused by Hurricane Ida will require a massive team effort to restore power,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “We are praying for our sister co-ops in the region and for the safety of everyone assisting. By responding to natural disasters in other states, Kentucky co-op crews gain invaluable experience to ultimately help them respond to outages here at home.”
Crews from Nolin RECC and the co-op’s Wide Open Utility Service subsidiary rolled out Tuesday. Crews from Kenergy Corp. and South Kentucky RECC are heading to Louisiana on Wednesday, and co-op crews from Shelby Energy and Fleming-Mason Energy are scheduled to deploy on Thursday.
DEMCO, the largest co-op in Louisiana, reports extensive damage to transmission poles and substation transformers. “Restoration will be a weeks-long effort,” said Randy Pierce, DEMCO CEO and General Manager. Sixty transmission poles are down as well as more than 300 three-phase poles, which affects an estimated 60,000-80,000 co-op consumer-members.
Coordinated by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, mutual aid crews from Kentucky co-ops are deployed to specific sister cooperatives who have requested their help. On daily conference calls, safety teams from each state assess optimal deployments.
Though mutual aid crews responded to winter storms earlier this year, the Ida response is the first mutual aid deployment for hurricane relief since last year. Last September, 87 employees from twelve Kentucky electric co-ops helped restore power to a co-op in southwest Alabama after Hurricane Sally. In October, 73 Kentucky co-op employees helped restore power in Louisiana after Hurricane Delta. About 50 co-op personnel responded later that month to Hurricane Zeta relief in Georgia.
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.
In addition, Kentucky-based United Utility Supply Cooperative has reached out to cooperative distributors in the region to offer its assistance of material and supplies.
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.