The photo was taken by a Norris Electric lineman of a house served by Snapping Shoals EMC.
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, 535,00 in Georgia and 100,000 in South Carolina.
Before the hurricane made land, crews were sent to Surry-Yadkin EMC, Dobson, N.C.; and Georgia cooperatives Carroll EMC, Carrollton; Satilla EMC, Alma; and Snapping Shoals EMC, Covington. The crews in North Carolina were released to join others at Snapping Shoals EMC, and once power was restored at Carroll EMC, those crews joined the others. Most recent numbers indicate co-ops in Georgia, with help from outside crews, restored power to 230,000 meters.
Despite this incredible progress, large outages continue. 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 are 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.”
Illinois electric cooperatives are no strangers to helping out fellow co-ops when devastated by hurricanes, ice storms or tornadoes. As of Wednesday, Sept. 13, crews from 14 co-ops were working at Snapping Shoals EMC and six crews were at Satilla EMC.
Those co-ops sending crews include:
- Adams Electric Cooperative, Camp Point
- Clay Electric Co-operative, Inc., Flora
- Clinton County Electric Cooperative, Inc., Breese
- Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative, Mattoon
- Corn Belt Energy Corporation, Bloomington
- Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative, Paxton
- Egyptian Electric Cooperative Association, Steeleville
- EnerStar Electric Cooperative, Paris
- Illinois Electric Cooperative, Winchester
- Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc., Elizabeth
- M.J.M. Electric Cooperative, Inc., Carlinville
- Menard Electric Cooperative, Petersburg
- Monroe County Electric Co-Operative, Inc., Waterloo
- Norris Electric Cooperative, Newton
- Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative, Auburn
- Shelby Electric Cooperative, Shelbyville
- SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative, Inc., Carrier Mills
- Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative, Dongola
- Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc., Mt. Vernon
- Wayne-White Counties Electric Cooperative, Fairfield
- Prairie Power, Inc., Springfield