Co-op Crews in Southeast Wrapping Up Restoration Efforts After Winter Storm

Electric cooperative line crews worked early this week to restore service to more than 100,000 meters in several states following a weekend winter storm that caused widespread damage to power lines and utility poles across parts of the central and Eastern U.S. While work continued in some areas Tuesday, most co-op members had power restored by late Monday.

“The rate at which service is restored has varied based upon hundreds of fallen trees which must be cleared and removed,” said Terri Statham, manager of media relations for Georgia Electric Membership Corp. The statewide association reported about 70,000 co-op-served meters out after snow, ice and high winds blasted across the state.

About 2,900 meters, primarily in northeastern Georgia, were still without power early Tuesday. Restoration work continued across the service territory of Clarkesville-based Habersham EMC, said Statham, adding that parts of the state received as much as eight inches of snow.

Co-ops across the Southeast had prepared for serious service disruptions based on forecasts heading into the weekend. Arrangements were made for mutual aid from states outside the threatened region, and some crews still working in the area following storms earlier this month were repositioned to assist where needed.

In Kentucky, co-op crews and contractors worked Tuesday to restore power to about 6,500 meters. Gray-based Cumberland Valley Electric reported about 3,400 meters out, and Jackson Energy Cooperative, headquartered in McKee, was working through outages affecting about 2,700 meters on its system.

The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina reported about 2,200 outages Tuesday morning. Most of those were on systems serving members in northern, inland areas of the state. Pageland-based Lynches River Electric Cooperative was working to restore service to about 1,300 of its meters, and Pickens-based Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative had nearly 700 meters out.

In North Carolina, co-ops reported 18,400 meters out of service Sunday afternoon, but crews began assessing damage and restoring power as weather conditions improved. High winds pushed outage numbers beyond 20,000, but less than 4,000 meters remained out of service by midday Monday. By dawn Tuesday, about 150 co-op-served meters were without power.

Co-op crews continue to take pandemic mitigation precautions, sequestering crews for lodging and meals. Some statewide associations have reported shortages of contractors due in part to COVID-19 exposures.

Derrill Holly is a staff writer for NRECA.