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Southside Electric Battles Historic Ice Storm in order to Restore Power to Members


February 14, 2021


Southside Electric Battles Historic Ice Storm in order to

Restore Power to Members


The massive ice storm event that engulfed Southside Electric Cooperative’s (SEC) 18 County service area on Saturday left as many as 48,000 members without electricity at one point. In response to the forecasted weather devastation, SEC strategically pre-staged significant amounts of materials and personnel in order to be best prepared to restore power to our members as quickly and safely as possible. In advance of the freezing weather, 18 mutual-aid crews, 10 contract crews, and 8 contract tree crews were brought on board, as well as 26 of its own restoration crews. Subsequently, on Monday, February 15, an addition 10 contract crews will be arriving.


“Mother Nature dealt a severe blow to SEC’s distribution system on Saturday with heavy ice that has created multiple broken poles, broken cross arms and numerous downed power lines,” says SEC President and CEO Jeff Edwards. “SEC is committed to using all resources in our restoration efforts. We have everyone working diligently to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. This restoration will take several days due to the sheer damage that has been left behind. We appreciate everyone’s well wishes and patience as we repair the system.”


“Even with our extensive preparations,” says SEC Operation Vice-President Brad Furr, “this monumental storm dealt a significant blow with up to ¾ inches of freezing rain forming on trees and power lines. One issue that our crews continue to face is impassable secondary roads due to downed trees. Crews are clearing the trees with chainsaws to be able to get access to the seriously damaged infrastructure in order to restore power for our members.”


“In addition, due to the saturated ground, many of our track and wheeled vehicles are unable to get to broken poles other than to carry in the poles and replacement wires on foot. All said, we are working around the clock with our SEC crews, mutual-aid crews, contract line crews and contract tree crews to safely restore power as quickly as possible”


With rising temperatures today and tomorrow, SEC expects ice melting, allowing our army of crews to make progress on power restoration. As of 3 pm on Sunday, there were 452 outages affecting 42,553 members. Specifically, there were 110 reported broken poles, 100 reported broken cross arms, 162 reports of downed wire and 64 circuit outages.


Due to the number of broken poles and damaged lines, restoration is going to take time. Based on how the system is designed, SEC crews will be working to first restore electricity on larger, three-phase lines that serve more members. If a SEC member is served by a single-phase line, it will take time to get their power flowing again. While a good amount of progress is being made, it will likely be several days before all members have electricity. SEC apologizes for this inconvenience and want all members to know SEC is working as quickly and safely as possible.


“Southside was established to provide safe and reliable electricity to our membership,” says Director of Technical Services Joshua Wells. “This restoration effort takes sacrifice from everyone involved and is a huge collaboration effort of trust and cooperation. I am so proud to be a part of this SEC team.”


 SEC understands being without electricity at any time is inconvenient and difficult, but we will get through this winter storm together. We appreciate your patience and understanding. To report outages, call 1-866-878-5514.


Southside Electric Cooperative, a not-for-profit, member-owned electric distribution company, has 57,600 active services across 18 counties in central and southern Virginia. Headquartered in Crewe, SEC has district offices in Altavista, Crewe, Dinwiddie and Powhatan. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.