Utility crews from region help to restore electricity
Crews from a utility cooperative and company which serve the region have journeyed to help those affected by recent catastrophic weather in the south and southeastern United States.
Workers from the Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative and Ameren were helping with the recovery effort.
Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative
In advance of Hurricane Irma, the Georgia Electric Membership Cooperative reached out to the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, AIEC, for storm recovery help.
The AIEC activated its Emergency Work Plan and dispatched 123 linemen from 21 rural electric cooperatives from across the state to help restore electricity in Georgia and North Carolina.
The hurricane produced tropical-force winds, torrential downpours and extensive damage to Georgia’s electric infrastructure.
Approximately 5,000 cooperative workers from 25 states converged in the hurricane’s impact zone to assist in restoration efforts.
Peak outage estimates indicate there were more than 760,000 co-op outages in Florida, 535,000 in Georgia and 100,000 in South Carolina.
Before the hurricane made land, a crew of four linemen from Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative was sent to Satilla EMC in Alma, Ga.
They were going to stay to help restore power to all of those members.
Most recent numbers , as of Sept. 13, indicated that co-ops in Georgia, with help from outside crews, had been able to restore power to 230,000 meters.
Despite the progress, large outages continued. As is often the case during restorations of this scale, the last several thousand meters are the most difficult to restore.
The co-ops deal first with rebuilding their main supply lines, to restore power to the most members as quickly as possible, and then work on the single-phase lines.
The linemen have been working an average of 17 hours a day, under difficult circumstances, to rebuild the system.
“The Georgia cooperatives are overwhelmed with gratitude by the response of the Illinois cooperatives, and that from across the nation,” said Jim Miles, AIEC manager of safety and loss control and coordinator of the Illinois emergency work plan.
“Work, such as this, exhibits the cooperative principle of cooperation among cooperatives. We know that if we ever need it, the Georgia cooperatives will be happy to reciprocate.”
With an additional wave of Ameren employees headed to Florida, Ameren reported on Sept. 13 that it had approximately 1,000 employees and contractors assisting in the restoration and rebuilding efforts in response to Hurricane Irma.
The company also announced an additional $25,000 donation to aid Red Cross relief efforts in Florida, following a similar donation made for Texas after Hurricane Harvey.
“Historic storms such as Harvey and Irma require a large collaborative response effort from utilities and relief organizations,” said Warner Baxter, chairman, president and CEO of Ameren Corporation.
“Being able to assist in power restoration efforts and offer resources to organizations that help those in need can make a real difference in recovery efforts, which is why we are providing both.
“For those who have been affected by these devastating storms, our hope is to help get these communities back on their feet as quickly as possible.”
Ameren resources working in Florida or headed that way included those from Ameren Missouri, Ameren Illinois and Ameren Transmission.
According to the Edison Electric Institute, Hurricane Irma is likely to be one of the largest and most complex power-restoration efforts in U.S. history.
Ameren participates in the electric industry’s mutual assistance network through Edison Electric Institute, which means the company is available to help with emergencies in other parts of the country such as Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Customers of Ameren Illinois and Ameren Missouri have benefited from past assistance from other utilities following severe weather in the Midwest, including tornados, ice storms and other weather events.