TUCKER,Ga. – At 3 p.m., Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) are reporting 187,000 customers without power, down from 550,000 at the peak of Tropical Storm Irma. Since late Monday night, EMCs have restored electric service to 363,000 customers.
EMCs have made great strides to repair and in some cases completely rebuild portions of the distribution network. The number of EMC linemen focused on power restoration at this time has swelled to 4,500 and includes crews from 14 states thus far and may increase in the days ahead.
Georgia has become a temporary home for linemen from Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. Some arrived in the Peach State prior to the storm, others were staged until the storm passed and it was safe to begin work, while others began arriving yesterday.
EMCs stress that the damage inflicted by Irma is “catastrophic”, a term seldom used by operations and engineering professionals, and the restoration process will take multiple days in many parts of the state. From the mountains of north Georgia to the beaches along the coast, crews are encountering thousands of downed trees and limbs and hundreds of damaged or destroyed power poles and power lines. The average time to replace a broken pole is four hours, which is a good example of why restoration times have been and will be lengthy for some members.
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.