Outage numbers continue to decline for EMC members throughout Georgia following Hurricane Michael, as an extensive restoration effort involving hundreds of linemen and additional support personnel continues.
EMCs are currently reporting approximately 45,000 outages primarily in South and Southwest Georgia, down from a peak of 210,000. After surveying the electric system when conditions became safe, EMCs and other utilities quickly realized Michael was not an ordinary storm.
The extended recovery process can be attributed largely to catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in Georgia as a Category 3 hurricane. Unlike storms in recent years, Michael destroyed or damaged high-voltage transmission lines and electrical substations that provide electricity to local EMCs, which distribute it to members through smaller lines.
At the height of the storm, 53 high voltage transmission lines were down as well as 99 electrical substations. In recent days, Georgia Transmission Corp. has made great strides to bring these lines and substations back to full operation and reports that work on the transmission system has been completed.
However, much work remains. The rebuilding of the distribution system involves a number of unique challenges for electric cooperatives:
• Some EMCs are rebuilding as much as 100 percent of their distribution system, while others are repairing and replacing significant portions of their network as well.
• Affected EMCs serve enormous land areas and have far fewer members per mile of line (an average of 10) compared with investor owned utilities (average of 34, three times that of an electric co-op) and publicly owned utilities, or municipals, (with an average of 48, nearly five times that of an electric co-op).
• EMCs report historically high numbers of downed trees and power poles, surpassing previous records. Linemen are replacing thousands of broken poles—an arduous task that requires as much as four hours per pole.
For these reasons, EMCs caution it will be an extended restoration process in areas that bore the brunt of the storm, possibly a week or more before full restoration is complete. Local crews are currently working with linemen from Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Note to media: Updated outage information can be found throughout the day on Georgia EMC’s web site at https://georgiaemc.com/page/outages. The next written update will be provided at 5 a.m. tomorrow.
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. To learn more, visit www.georgiaemc.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Georgia Transmission Corporation plans, builds and maintains more than 3,100 miles of high-voltage powerlines and 650 substations that deliver electric power to 38 electric membership corporations (EMCs) across the state. Georgia Transmission and our member EMCs are not-for-profit cooperatives that serve approximately 4.1 million people in nearly 70 percent of the state’s land area. See www.gatrans.com