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S.C.'s electric cooperatives prepare for Florence

At least 500 lineworkers have arrived in South Carolina or are on their way to assist electric cooperatives whose members may lose power during Hurricane Florence. Another 250 lineworkers from surrounding states are on standby.

Electric cooperatives’ power distribution system—at 75,000 miles of line, more than all other utilities in the state combined—is spread over parts of all 46 counties. Their power restoration plans are designed to balance speed and safety as they restore power quickly.

“Of course, ‘quick power restoration’ can have different meanings with different people,” said Todd Carter, vice president of loss control and training at the state association of electric cooperatives. “We know consumers want their power restored in a matter of hours, but with damage that a hurricane can cause, sometimes ‘quickly’ means a day or two or more.”

Carter plays a serious game of line crew checkers—or chess or both—in the lead-up to and aftermath of any widespread weather event. He plans for the shortest travel time but avoids bringing vehicles through storm damage as they make their way to their assigned work place. The goal is to be able to start repair work immediately after the storm has passed when it is safe for workers to be in the field.

“This storm’s track has made us toss one plan and almost start over in organizing hundreds of incoming lineworkers from all across the Southeast and beyond,” said Carter. “When the storm seemed to be headed for North Carolina, we had some crews coming from Georgia. As the predicted track has moved down the coast toward Georgia, crews from North Carolina may be available.”

In addition to Georgia and North Carolina, Carter has help coming from Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana and Mississippi. Crews from First Electric Cooperative departed Jacksonville, Ark., for the Palmetto State on Tuesday. Later, more help may come from Kentucky and Virginia.

More information is available in the South Carolina Living Storm Center.

Real time power outage information is available here:

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