Winter Storm Outages Hit Co-opsBy Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer Published: February 6th, 2014
Tens of thousands of electric cooperative members were without power after a massive winter storm blasted out of the Great Plains dumping ice, snow and freezing rain across parts of 11 states.
“Craighead Electric Cooperative Corp., had about 2,500 members out of service around noon, Feb. 4,” said Monty Williams, vice president of marketing and communications of the Jonesboro, Ark., based co-op. “The storm has caused widespread damage across the eastern portion of the cooperative’s service territory.”
About 2,100 Craighead EC meters remained without service by midafternoon the following day, and the co-op was receiving help from three other electric co-ops.
Similar problems were reported in Kentucky, where between 25,000 and 30,000 co-op-served meters were without power early Feb. 5.
“We had freezing rain and sleet,” said David White, a safety instructor who was helping to coordinate mutual aid on behalf of members of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives. “Some co-op served areas had more than one-half inch of ice buildup on trees and power lines. That’s causing trees to fall, bringing down power lines and breaking poles.”
Damage across Kentucky was so widespread that co-op crews from 20 of the state’s 23 co-ops stayed in their own territories to handle local problems, and co-ops from Tennessee headed north to help out.
“There will be some areas that will probably have outages extending into Feb. 7,” said White. “But most of the work should be completed much sooner.”
For Henderson, Ky.,-based Kenergy, the sheer volume of outages across the co-op’s 14-county service territory kept crews platooning across the system Feb. 4-5.
“We’ve have about 200 individual outages,” said Renee Beasley Jones, Kenergy’s communications and public relations manager. “We are averaging about 10 meters per outage from about one-quarter inch of ice.”
In Ohio, four co-ops reported 3,565 meters out by midday, Feb. 5.
“The southern part of the state got the most ice, and that is where we are seeing damage,” John Howley, director of communications for the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperative and Buckeye Power. “Parts of the northern Ohio have been placed under a snow emergency and all nonessential travel is restricted.”
In Pennsylvania, Adams Electric Cooperative has about 9,000 of our 32,000 meters out of service, said Duane Kanagy, manager of communications and community services for the Gettysburg-based co-op, early Feb. 5. “We’ve gotten at least a quarter-inch of ice on top of snow that was already on trees and lines from previous storms.”
Adams EC was getting help from other Pennsylvania co-ops and contract tree crews, but downed trees across roads and flooded creeks and ditches hampered restoration progress, Kanagy said. “This could be a two-to-three day event to get everybody restored,” he said.
Electric cooperatives from Virginia to Vermont also reported scattered outages related to the storm, and forecasters warned that another system could affect some of those same areas by week’s end.