EMCs Continue to Rebuild Distribution Network in Southwest Georgia
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Posted by: Terri Statham
Crews are working 16- to 18-hour shifts
in remote and rural areas
TUCKER, Ga. -- Outage numbers continue to decrease for customers of Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) in areas of the state devastated by Hurricane Michael, despite several EMCs faced with rebuilding 100 percent of their electric distribution system.
It took years to construct the electric transmission and distribution system in rural Southwest Georgia, but Hurricane Michael destroyed much of it in a few hours. EMC crews, many working up to 18-hour shifts, are making progress in some of the most rural parts of their systems, but there are thousands of broken poles and hundreds of miles of line on the ground.
As of 4:45 a.m., EMCs are reporting approximately 25,000 outages in Southwest Georgia, down from a peak of 210,000.
The power recovery effort has been especially long and difficult in the aftermath of the Category 3 hurricane. Crews are following a proven, methodical process for restoring power, but progress is moving slowly while rebuilding miles of power lines and replacing thousands of power poles, each of which may provide service to a small pocket of customers.
To that end, customer density and location of outages are critical factors impacting the time and difficulty associated with restoration. By their nature, EMCs serve rural areas of the state and have far fewer customers per mile of distribution line (average of 10) compared with investor-owned utilities (average of 34) and publicly-owned utilities or municipal systems (average of 48).
In fact, the most impacted EMCs have an average density of 10 customers or less per mile, and their systems span hundreds of miles in rural counties. As such, EMCs can make one repair and restore service to as few as three households compared with investor-owned utilities or municipal systems which can make one repair and restore service to 75 or more houses.
For this reason, EMCs stress it is going to take additional time to get the most heavily damaged areas restored – likely a couple of weeks or more.
EMCs have called in thousands of extra men and contract crews in addition to their own crews, and have hundreds of additional pieces of equipment dedicated to the effort. Even more are coming in, but the work is going to take more time.
EMCs ask for continued patience as every available resource is dedicated to full restoration.
Note to media: This will be the final statewide update. Visit Georgia EMC’s website for the latest outage stats at https://georgiaemc.com/page/outages. EMC members can follow progress of their local EMC via their local communication channels.
Georgia EMC is the statewide trade association representing the state’s 41 EMCs, Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia Transmission Corp. and Georgia System Operations Corp. Collectively, Georgia’s customer-owned EMCs provide electricity and related services to 4.4 million people, nearly half of Georgia’s population, across 73 percent of the state’s land area. To learn more, visit www.georgiaemc.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.