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Southside Electric Cooperative Increases Number of Crews Working to Restore Power

Southside Electric Cooperative Increases Number of Crews Working to Restore Power

CREWE, VIRGINIA – Southside Electric Cooperative (SEC) line crews coupled with mutual-aid and contract crews are out in full force today. SEC has increased the number of crewmen working to restore power after Winter Storms Tabitha which left 80% of members without power. Mutual aid crews from five states and neighboring Virginia Electric Cooperatives and contract crews including crews from Dominion Energy are assisting Southside crews with construction and restoration efforts. SEC now will have an outage force of 783 in the field once all crews arrive later today.

“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. “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 continued.

SEC pre-staged their entire staff, and mutual aid crews from out of state before the onset of the storm last Thursday. As conditions worsened, the Co-op requested more assistance from neighboring Cooperatives and additional crews from out of state. Ongoing extreme weather events in Texas and Oklahoma pulled many mutual aid crews away from Virginia. Crews that came early in the week to assist were called back to their respective co-ops to pre-stage for a second winter storm, which had been forecasted to impact Southside, Central, and Southwestern regions of Virginia, as well as 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.”

As crews make progress, new outages are occurring from 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. This challenge could delay the progress our crews and mutual aid/contract support is 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. 

 

To report outages, please telephone 1-866-878-5514.

 

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