Hurricane Beryl: Tracking the Co-op Response

Crews in Sam Houston Electric Cooperative territory began restoration efforts on Monday after Hurricane Beryl came ashore. (Photo By: Chad Simon/Sam Houston EC)

Updated: July 10, 3:45 p.m. ET

Electric cooperatives in Texas were making great progress in restoring power Wednesday after more than 213,000 co-op consumer-members lost electricity when Hurricane Beryl slammed into the southeast Texas coast on Monday, flooding streets and homes and toppling trees with powerful winds roaring up to 85 mph.

A spokesman for Texas Electric Cooperatives said the statewide association worked to send co-op crews from unaffected parts of Texas and other states to help co-ops that were battered by Beryl. Both transmission and distribution lines were damaged. Nine Texas co-ops were affected by the hurricane.

“TEC has been assisting with mutual aid coordination, pulling co-ops from outside the affected areas to assist and, true-to-form, co-ops have answered the call,” said Martin Bevins, the association’s vice president of communications and member services.

Sam Houston Electric Cooperative in Livingston reported Monday that more than 76,000 of its approximately 85,000 members had lost power as a result of Beryl, which made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane before weakening into a tropical storm. Throughout southeast Texas, nearly 3 million people served by a variety of utilities lost power.

The number of outages reported by the co-op had dropped to less than 55,500 by Wednesday afternoon as lineworkers teamed up with contractors and co-op crews from other areas. Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. dispatched 34 lineworkers on Tuesday to help the Texas co-op.

Sam Houston EC “has assembled an army of approximately 500 lineworkers to restore service to its members,” the Arkansas statewide association said.

“Sam Houston reports that the damage to all parts of its distribution system is significant,” AECI said. “Seven of its 38 substations do not have transmission, but thankfully the substations are intact. The feeders from the substations sustained significant damage. Approximately 67 of the cooperative’s 123 feeders were down entirely, and many others were severely damaged. Crews on site have made progress and reduced the number to 48 feeders down. There are many smaller lines, crossarms and poles that are broken.”

MidSouth Electric Cooperative in Navasota said Monday that it had more than 29,000 meters without power, but that number was down to about 5,200 by Wednesday. The co-op serves about 37,000 members.

“MidSouth will work as swiftly as possible until every member has restored power,” the co-op said in a press release.

Jackson Electric Cooperative in Edna, which has about 17,000 members, reported about 7,000 meters were without power Tuesday, down from about 10,000 on Monday. Much of JEC’s coastal territory was under water after the hurricane hit.

“It’s been a long few days, and we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding while we work around the clock to restore power,” the co-op said Wednesday in a notice to members on its website.

“Crews were up bright and early this morning loading up material and getting a plan together before they head out for the day. All substations are back up, and crews have been working on rebuilding distribution lines, setting poles, and clearing trees and debris from lines.”

Wharton County Electric Cooperative in El Campo reported a maximum of 6,000 meters without power on Monday. By Wednesday afternoon, crews had slashed the number of outages to about 1,150. The co-op, which has about 6,500 members, was assisted by crews from Victoria Electric Cooperative.

Houston County Electric Cooperative in Crockett reported more than 9,500 of its 22,500 members without power as of Monday evening. The number of outages had dropped to less than 500 by Wednesday.

“We anticipate most will be restored by Wednesday evening, July 10, but there may be a few scattered outages through Thursday,” the co-op said in a notice to members on its website.

San Bernard Electric Cooperative in Bellville reported more than 13,600 meters without power on Monday. Co-op crews were working with contractors to restore electricity, and the number of outages shrunk to about 170 by early Wednesday afternoon.

“Crews will continue to work to restore power throughout the day,” the co-op said Wednesday on Facebook. “Thank you again for your patience. It is hard to predict the impact a storm has on our service territory, but our linemen, dispatch center and employees have worked hard to serve their community”.

Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative in San Augustine reported more than 33,600 outages Monday on its website’s outage map, which displayed a drop down to about 4,100 outages by Wednesday afternoon. Jasper-Newton Electric Cooperative in Kirbyville reported Wednesday on its Facebook Page that it had about 1,000 remaining outages. Victoria Electric Cooperative in Victoria experienced a peak outage of 2,861 meters after the hurricane hit, but the co-op reported on its Facebook page that it had restored electricity to everyone by early Monday evening.

Erin Kelly is a staff writer for NRECA.