(June 1, 2016) — America’s electric cooperatives have taken numerous steps to prepare for the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from today through November 30. Electric co-ops own and operate nearly 40 percent of the nation’s electric distribution infrastructure, which spans 75 percent of the nation’s landmass, including regions frequently affected by hurricanes and tropical storms.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this year predicts a “near-normal” hurricane season—the past few years saw below-normal hurricane activity—with “a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).”
“Keeping members safe during storms is the highest priority during an imminent threat for the nation’s more than 900 not-for-profit electric cooperatives,” said National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Interim CEO Jeffrey Connor. “Electric co-ops in coastal states from Texas to Maine routinely update their emergency plans and hold staff briefings on hurricane preparedness before each hurricane season.”
NRECA experts also coordinate and conduct exercises with federal agencies, including the Department of Energy and the Federal Emergency Management Administration, to enhance preparedness initiatives prior to the hurricane season.
And on behalf of the nation’s electric co-ops, NRECA is represented on the Electric Subsector Coordinating Council, which helps prepare disaster-related communications and planning.
In addition, as pioneers of electric utility mutual assistance programs, co-ops routinely lend crews, equipment and provide other help to sister cooperatives working to restore power in the wake of hurricanes or other major disasters, both natural and man-made.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.