‘Not letting up’

Co-op crews continue massive restoration

Though Kentucky’s electric cooperatives have restored service to 94 percent of the consumer-members who lost power in Friday’s windstorm, co-ops are not letting up on their massive response to the natural disaster.

“It’s all hands on deck,” said Randy Meredith, Director of Safety & Training at Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, the association which supports local co-ops. “Co-op crews are not letting up. We are working around the clock. Each crew is working 16 hour shifts at staggered times, so there are crews working 24/7.”

Co-ops are making steady progress restoring power. At the height of the windstorm on Friday, more than 300,000 consumer-members lost power in Kentucky. As of 1:00pm (EST) on Tuesday, about 15,000 members remain without power. The remaining outages are among the most difficult to address.

“In addition to the many communities, industries and neighborhoods served by electric cooperatives, co-ops also pride themselves in providing electricity to the most remote, most difficult to serve areas of Kentucky,” said Joe Arnold, Vice-President of Strategic Communications. “These areas are also often among the most difficult to restore service after a natural disaster given the terrain and other factors. Our co-ops value every co-op member, and with the help of mutual aid crews from co-ops in 11 states, they have made significant progress.”

About 500 personnel have arrived from more than 60 sister co-ops. Coordinated by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association of co-ops, crews are working here from Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

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.

Several co-ops are receiving assistance from other utilities within the state, as well as hundreds of contract crews. Co-ops report more than 600 broken utility poles and thousands of power lines down across the 117 counties served by co-ops across the commonwealth.

Kentucky-based United Utility Supply Cooperative is assisting with storm response to cooperatives across the region. Its Cooperative Distribution Center in Louisville is responding with transformers, power lines, poles and all other materials needed to outfit an electric utility.