EMCs Send Crews to Help Restore Power

Aug 28, 2012, 18:46 ET from Georgia EMC

TUCKER, Ga., Aug. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 100 workers and a large contingent of equipment from eight electric cooperatives in Georgia are headed to parts of Mississippi and possibly Louisiana to help restore power in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac.

According to Jim Wright, vice president of training, education and safety for Georgia EMC, and the statewide crew assistance coordinator for the EMCs, co-ops have been awaiting instructions from EMCs in areas hardest hit. In Georgia, the statewide association works from an emergency plan that coordinates crews during emergencies such as ice storms, tornadoes and hurricanes.

"We've been in contact with Mississippi and Louisiana's EMC disaster response officials since yesterday," says Wright. "It takes time for them to refine their plans to address this specific situation and to conduct damage assessments after the storm moves through."

At this time, crews are headed to Kiln, Picayune and Laurel, Miss. Additional crews and equipment could be sent to other areas across Mississippi and Louisiana in the days ahead.

Winds and heavy rains are a great threat during hurricanes such as Isaac, with the potential to blow electric poles and structures to the ground and knock hundreds of trees on power lines. The areas have already sustained heavy rains, soaking the ground and making conditions ripe for fallen power lines.

Once in those areas, the EMCs in Georgia will rely on their extensive experience in restoring power following a variety of weather events, including ice storms, tornadoes and hurricanes.  In recent years, EMC crews have worked alongside co-ops in South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida.

While Wright can't say specifically in what order power will be restored when they arrive, many utilities follow a standard industry practice to repair and energize its lines. First, feeder and primary lines are repaired, then secondary and service lines next. This method restores power to the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time.

As of 6 p.m., equipment and crews are being sent from Canoochee EMC in Reidsville, Carroll EMC in Carrollton, Cobb EMC in Marietta, Colquitt EMC in Moultrie, Diverse Power in LaGrange, Grady EMC in Cairo. GreyStone Power in Douglasville and Snapping Shoals EMC in Covington. That number could increase as EMCs in areas hardest hit complete damage assessments and request additional crews.

Georgia EMC is the statewide trade association representing the state's 42 EMCs, Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia Transmission Corp. and Georgia System Operations Corp.  Collectively, Georgia's customer-owned EMCs provide electricity and related services to more than four million people, half of Georgia's population, across 73 percent of the state's land area.