Month: December 2021

Kentucky Rural Electric Disaster Fund

Following the devastating tornadoes in Kentucky on December 10 and 11, and due to multiple requests from across the state and country, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association, has organized the Kentucky Rural Electric Disaster Fund to assist members of the co-op family who face challenges after disasters, and for the aid of communities served by co-ops.

Though we are confident the IRS will ultimately determine this fund to be a valid 501(c)(3) non-profit, which will allow for tax deductibility of any contribution, this process can be time consuming. Until the final determination is made by the IRS, there is a risk of donations not being recognized as tax deductible.

As such, the Kentucky Rural Electric Disaster Fund will accept donations, and when determination is made, notify all donors.  

Checks should be made payable to: Kentucky Rural Electric Disaster Fund and can be mailed to the statewide office: 

Kentucky Rural Electric Disaster Fund

c/o Kentucky Electric Cooperatives

1630 Lyndon Farm Ct Ste 200

Louisville, KY 40223

How to help western Kentucky tornado victims

Here are ways to help victims of the December tornadoes that devastated western Kentucky communities. 

Relief Funds

Team Kentucky Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund

Community Foundation of West Kentucky tornado relief fund

American Red Cross OR call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669)

United Way of Kentucky

Kentucky Agriculture Relief Fund

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief

Kentucky Sports Radio and Kentucky Chamber Foundation tornado relief fund

Blood Donation 

Red Cross

Kentucky Blood Center

Blood Assurance

Co-op Crews Restoring Power After Deadly Tornadoes

Electric cooperative crews, mutual aid workers and contractors are making steady progress this week restoring electricity after deadly tornadoes swept through parts of the South and Midwest over the weekend.

Damage to distribution and transmission lines, poles and support structures in some areas is extensive, and several co-op-served communities will face months of rebuilding and recovery from the massive tornadoes and powerful winds that ravaged their communities.

More than 100,000 co-op-served meters were out of service in the immediate aftermath of the storms, but local crews and contractors began assessing damage and making repairs as soon as winds subsided enough for them to work safely.

In hard-hit Kentucky, co-ops faced devastation in the communities they serve as they worked to restore power “surrounded by debris, destruction and an uncertain future for the western Kentucky communities they call home,” the Kentucky Electric Cooperatives said in a statement.

“Our hearts are heavy with the loss of life, homes, businesses and livelihoods in our communities,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives and United Utility Supply Cooperative.

At least 74 people have died in Kentucky as a result of the tornadoes, state officials said Tuesday.

“The co-op mission is to improve the quality of life in the communities we serve, and co-op crews are doing what they can to try to help our members recover from this disaster,” Perry said. “I want to personally thank the crews for their incredible response within such a short time.”

More than 500 workers were helping to restore power in western Kentucky. Crews from more than 20 co-ops in several states were assisting line technicians at West Kentucky RECCWarren RECCGibson EMC and Pennyrile Electric, the statewide association said.

More than 80,000 co-op consumer-members in the state lost power Saturday. By Tuesday afternoon, that number had dropped to about 5,600. However, the pace of restoration is likely to slow as co-op crews deal with the most heavily damaged areas, the statewide association said.

Kentucky co-op employees were among those who suffered severe damage to their homes. The statewide association has created the nonprofit Kentucky Rural Electric Disaster Fund to help them and the communities they serve.

“Time and time again, Kentucky electric cooperative employees put their personal lives and families on the side to address the needs of their communities and the wider co-op community,” Perry said.

Louisville-based United Utility Supply Cooperative delivered multiple truckloads of materials and supplies to affected co-ops, deploying office staff to join the co-op’s truck drivers and deliver extra loads as needed, said Joe Arnold, vice president of strategic communications for the statewide association.

“Aware of the forecasts for severe weather on Friday night, UUS worked with its transformer vendor, ERMCO, to secure an extra supply of transformers to be able to deliver them where they were most needed after the storms,” Arnold said. “Despite supply chain concerns, UUS has been able to deliver needed supplies to co-ops.”

In Tennessee, co-ops have worked to reduce outages from 20,000 to less than 4,000, the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association said in a press release Tuesday.

Neighboring co-ops were working to help Gibson Electric Membership Corp. restore power to hard-hit areas of northwest Tennessee and southwest Kentucky. As of Tuesday, the co-op reported that it had about 1,000 members without electricty, down from about 1,700 the night before. However, the co-op was continuing to receive new outage reports even as it was restoring service.

“Even with all of Gibson EMC’s lineworkers and lineworkers from neighboring utilities, repairing the monumental damage is a painfully slow process,” said Dan Rodamaker, president and CEO of Gibson EMC and Gibson Connect, the co-op’s broadband subsidiary. “We know how very difficult a lengthy outage is for our members and we are pushing hard to restore electric and internet service as quickly as we safely can.”

It may take several more days to restore power to all of Tennessee’s co-op members, the statewide association said.

“The images coming out of northwest Tennessee and southwest Kentucky are truly remarkable,” said David Callis, executive vice president and general manager for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Even in the face of tragedy, it is encouraging to see how many rush to provide assistance when neighbors need help.”

In Arkansas, 8,000 co-op members were out of power initially, but that number had plummeted to about 50 as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the outage map on the website of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.

Co-op crews also restored service to several thousand co-op meters in Mississippi and Illinois over the weekend, and power had been completely restored by Tuesday.

In Missouri, crews worked Monday to repair a high-voltage transmission line connecting two power plants owned by Springfield-based Associated Electric Cooperative to the grid. The G&T lost 17 steel structures, and officials have said long-term repairs will be needed on the line.

“Missouri crews restored service to about 15,000 co-op served meters across the state over the weekend,” said Jim McCarty, a spokesman for the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. As of Tuesday afternoon, the statewide association’s outage map showed just 84 co-op members without power.

Erin Kelly and Derrill Holly are staff writers for NRECA.

Kentucky co-ops respond after monster tornadoes

Surrounded by debris, destruction and an uncertain future for the western Kentucky communities they call home, electric cooperative employees and mutual aid crews are focusing on power restoration after an unprecedented series of massive and deadly tornadoes Friday night, December 10, in what is described as the worst disaster in Kentucky history.

At least 74 people are confirmed dead in Kentucky, with numbers still expected to rise. According to Governor Andy Beshear, the death toll includes 20 in Graves County, 13 in Hopkins County, 11 in Muhlenberg County; 12 in Warren County; four in Caldwell County; one each in Marshall, Taylor, Fulton and Lyon counties. Of the dead, 18 are still unidentified.

The ages of those lost range from 5 months to 86 years, including six victims younger than 18. In addition, 105 people remain unaccounted for; and hundreds injured.

Among the dead is Kentucky District Judge Brian Crick who served McLean and Muhlenberg counties. Calculating the human toll has been complicated by spotty phone and internet service, so some people who may have survived may not be able to reach loved ones or authorities, or may not know that they are unaccounted.

Gov. Andy Beshear says thousands of homes are destroyed, in addition to countless more that are unlivable or seriously damaged. Hundreds of businesses, churches and government buildings are total losses.

The largest of four Kentucky tornadoes first touched down in Arkansas, gaining strength along a cold front as it moved into Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky, pulverizing downtown Mayfield, a city of about 10,000, and ultimately plowing a 220 mile-long path through Princeton, Dawson Springs and other rural communities and as far east as Breckenridge County.

Another tornado killed 12 people and caused extensive damage in the Bowling Green area, including the destruction of approximately 500 homes and 100 businesses. Especially hard hit is the US-31 bypass area and several neighborhoods. A 100,000-square-foot warehouse in the Kentucky Transpark was leveled.

After Beshear declared a state of emergency and deployed the Kentucky National Guard on Saturday, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration, dispatching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanna Criswell to the commonwealth to assess the damage and recommend federal response. Biden is expected to visit Kentucky.

The declaration makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Caldwell, Fulton, Graves, Hopkins, Marshall, Muhlenberg, Taylor and Warren counties.

Criswell said FEMA teams are prioritizing finding housing for people displaced in the disaster. Kentucky State Parks is housing some people from Dawson Springs.

From a high of more than 80,000 consumer-members who lost power when four tornadoes shredded everything in their paths, crews had restored service to all but about 16,000 members as of Monday morning. “It appears that work is really moving,” Beshear said.

Though western Kentucky bore the brunt of the disaster, co-ops all across the commonwealth worked to restore power from the December storms. The co-op mutual aid system saw crews helping fellow co-ops in every region.

In addition to an estimated 1,000 co-op distribution poles snapped in the tornadoes, the Tennessee Valley Authority reports approximately 100 TVA power structures (towers and poles) were damaged or destroyed, 29 TVA transmission lines were down and more than 20 customer connection points lost service, mainly in Kentucky.

In Ohio County, Big Rivers Electric worked with Kenergy Corp, to restore power in the southern portion of the co-op’s service territory.

The number of co-ops offering assistance surpassed the capacity to receive them. At West Kentucky RECC, mutual aid crews from Jackson Purchase Energy, Tombigbee Electric (Mississippi), Shelby Energy, Licking Valley RECC, Cumberland Valley Electric, South Kentucky RECC, Blue Grass Energy and Salt River Electric are assisting. Historic downtown Mayfield, about a mile from the co-op headquarters, resembled a war zone, the county courthouse steeple sheared off and landmarks and businesses in rubble.

“We are also focusing on maximizing available power sources to serve as many members as possible,” said Georgann Lookofsky of WKRECC. “That’s why we have asked Graves County residents who do have service to conserve power whenever possible. The conservation efforts are paying off–we’ve seen usage drop, which allows us to return service to more members.”

Substations serving the Mayfield area and northern Graves County were still without TVA power on Monday. Meanwhile, WKRECC’s operations center sustained damage and the co-op’s communications systems have been hampered, including the phone system and the website outage map.

At Warren RECC, crews from Fleming Mason Energy, Tri-County Electric, Owen Electric, Nolin RECC, Blue Grass Energy and Jackson Energy are on the scene.

In its service territory of the four westernmost counties in Kentucky and eight northwestern Tennessee counties, Gibson EMC reported 26 outage locations and about 4,000 member homes and businesses without power.

“The tornadoes left broken poles on every road they crossed from the Mississippi River to the eastern boundary of our service area,” said Barry Smith, Gibson EMC VP of Engineering and Operations. “The damage amounts to hundreds of broken poles.”

“Even with all of Gibson EMC’s lineworkers and lineworkers from Pickwick Electric, Milan Public Utilities, Jackson Energy Authority, Forked Deer Electric Cooperative, Chickasaw Electric Cooperative and Service Electric, repairing the monumental damage is a painfully slow process,” said Dan Rodamaker, President and CEO of Gibson EMC and Gibson Connect. “We know how very difficult a lengthy outage is for our members and we are pushing hard to restore electric and internet service as quickly as we safely can.”

At Pennyrile Rural Electric, crews have been working around the clock since the storms passed Friday night.  As of Monday afternoon, about 2,600 members were without power in Christian, Todd, Logan and Trigg counties. Several of the damaged TVA transmission structures in this area are being rebuilt.

Churches, civic organizations and individuals have started supply drives collecting water, food, paper goods, pet food, blankets, gift cards and more.

Beshear urged Kentuckians who want to help to stay off the roads and leave room for first responders. Instead, he encouraged people to donate blood and cash donations to a fund “dedicated to helping the on-the-ground efforts going on right now and the relief efforts these families are going to need to rebuild.”

The Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund is live at

According to the governor, the fund will provide $5,000 to each victim’s family for funeral expenses. There is no need to apply the state will be working to contact families. As of Monday, December 13, the fund has received 30,175 donations totaling $4,009,817.71.

“We’re grateful for the outpouring of support, of attention, of prayers from this country and from the world,” Beshear said. “It’s all we can ask for and it’s just pure love. One country united, worried about us.”

“What I hope they see is that we also love one another,” Beshear continued. “We are good people that care about one another. We open our homes, we open our businesses. As people get power on, they are reaching out to everybody else to invite them in.”