CREWE, Va. (WWBT) - Southside Electric Cooperative has increased its line crews working to restore power outages thanks to mutual aid and contract crews.
Crews from five states and neighboring Virginia Electric Cooperatives and contract crews, including Dominion Energy, are assisting SEC’s restoration efforts after Winter Storms Tabitha knocked out power to 80 percent of members.
“We are grateful to our Cooperative mutual-aid and contract crews, and thankful to Dominion and their contract crews for providing assistance to our crews who have been working around the clock since last Saturday to restore power to our members,” said SEC President and CEO Jeff Edwards.
Once all crews arrive on Friday, SEC will have 783 out in the field.
“Nearly 80% of our electric infrastructure, which we have built and maintained over the last 80 years, has been destroyed all at once. This is the worst storm I have seen in my 14 years at Southside and 36 years in the industry,” Edwards said.
SEC’s entire staff and mutual aid crews were pre-staged before the storm last week. Then as conditions worsened, the co-op requested more assistance from neighboring cooperatives and additional crews from out-of-state. However, the storms in Texas and Oklahoma pulled help away from Virginia.
Crews that also came in early ahead of this week’s storm to help were called back to their co-ops as the storm was forecasted to hit parts of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
“I’m thankful to our colleagues at the Virginia, Maryland, & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives for their assistance in soliciting support from co-ops across the country while my team had all hands on deck for restoration efforts,” said Edwards. “In fact today, SEC is receiving assistance from several additional mutual-aid cooperatives who are joining the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative workforce to assist in outage restoration. Now that mutual aid crews and Dominion’s crews have completed their work in their own territory, they have been released to come support us. SEC now has an outage force of over 783 in the field.”
While crews are making progress, new outages are happening due to “trees springing back up and lines slapping together, as well as when trees give up at their roots because of weight with the saturated soils.” SEC said this could delay the progress crews are making.
“As work continues, crews are also finding many broken poles, cross-arm and downed lines caused by ice-laden trees that have fallen. Downed trees and extremely muddy conditions present challenges for the crews as they work to access damage along the Cooperative’s rights-of-ways and service territory. Safety is always SEC’s top priority, and all line workers, contractors and related field personnel continue to follow safety guidelines related to COVID-19,” SEC said.
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