Stepping up to help when power goes out
Lineworkers volunteer to help weather-ravaged co-ops during February ice storms
When out-of-state electric cooperatives experienced outages caused by downed lines and broken poles from a February ice storm, Hoosier Energy member cooperatives eagerly answered the call to action.
Twenty lineworkers from seven member cooperatives spent almost two weeks trudging along hills and hollers in Kentucky and Virginia to help set poles and hang wire after thousands ended up without power.
Southside Electric Cooperative in Crewe, Virginia, had 48,000 member-consumers without electricity and nearly 800 broken poles at one point during a historic ice storm. Clark County REMC, Harrison REMC, Henry County REMC, JCREMC, Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC, and Whitewater Valley REMC all sent crews to the area.
Another hard-hit territory was that of Licking Valley RECC in Magoffin County, Kentucky, which had more than 8,000 members without power and 80 broken poles.
South Central Indiana not only sent five lineworkers to help the Kentucky co-op, but also two small bucket trucks, a digger and a small utility pickup. Operations Manager Rob Pryor says the crew helped repair between 50 and 60 poles and a lot of line down due to ice.
“We’re normally the ones that get hit with weather disasters,” Pryor said. “It’s not very often we’re able to send out assistance to other co-ops, so when we get the opportunity, we’re glad to help out any way we can. I sure do appreciate the help that’s sent here in storms.”
JCREMC Director of Operations Tim Hogue echoed Pryor’s commitment to sending mutual aid to fellow cooperatives. “We’re always glad to help. Even though we’re real busy, we’re never too busy to lend a hand,” he said, adding that his workers often bring back creative ideas on how to handle severe weather in their own territories.
“When we ask for volunteers, I’ve generally got more than I need with hands in the air. It’s just what we do – it’s built into us to help other cooperatives, or whoever else needs it.”