(ARLINGTON, Va.) – Electric cooperatives in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas are preparing for Hurricane Matthew, coordinating with state, local and federal agencies and readying restoration efforts.
In advance of the storm, co-ops have activated mutual assistance plans to send trucks, line crews and administrative staff and supplies to affected co-ops. This mutual assistance program stems from cooperative principle number six – “Cooperation Among Cooperatives” – part of the cooperative difference.
Co-op crews from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee are coming to assist Florida co-ops affected by the storm. “As the weather models changed to show the hurricane affecting more Florida co-ops, the willingness of so many co-op crews to come here on very short notice has been a wonderful gift,” says Bill Willingham, general manager of the Florida Electric Cooperative Association.
Similarly Georgia and South Carolina co-ops are making their own preparations. Lineworkers in North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida are secured and ready to assist any electric cooperatives that might need assistance after the storm.
“Our preparations began last weekend,” said Todd Carter, vice president of loss control and training at The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, the state association of electric cooperatives. “As soon as a damaging weather event becomes a possibility, we activate a long-standing, formal agreement with multiple surrounding states. We reserve repair crews and plan for them to be close to at-risk areas after a storm passes.”
“For member-owned, not-for-profit electric co-ops, keeping consumer members safe during storms is absolutely the highest priority,” said National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jim Matheson. “Co-ops located in coastal areas understand that hurricane preparation is key to providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity to their members. They are already educating their members about electrical safety and preparedness using a variety of channels, including social media.”
In addition, staff members at NRECA are coordinating with federal agencies, including the Department of Energy and the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
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.