Hurricane Zeta hit Georgia land in the early morning on Oct. 29. Carroll Electric Membership Cooperative (EMC) experienced 32,000 outages as a result. Over the last few weeks, the company has worked hard to restore power to its residents.
“At our peak, we had roughly 32,000 outages, 63% of our system,” said Vice President of Communication and Economic Development, James Gill. “Our territory covers 1,100 square miles with 5,300 miles of line across 6 counties. We anticipated this would be a larger than normal event for us due to the forecast and watching it make landfall. We were prepared for this to be a multi-day event.”
The process of restoring outages takes time. In just two days the company restored power to more than 26,000 members across several counties. The process to get to restoration required the team to make preparations beforehand in order to be fully prepared once the storm hit.
“We called staff meetings and worked through our preparations beginning Tuesday before the storm,” said Gill. “The first step is to activate our Emergency Response Plan. Once our employees know we’re on-call and ready, then we begin securing material, food, contracted lineman or technical personnel, lodging, communications and key accounts notified.”
Following the storm, the team started the restoration process. This included securing lineman, understanding the terrain and communicating with the team about what needed to happen. During this time Carroll EMC worked tirelessly to make sure every member was receiving their power back as fast as possible.
“Once the wind gets below 30mph and the storm has safely moved on we begin deploying crews and repairing our system,” said Gill. “There’s always challenges with restoration, especially during a storm. We had 93 broken poles and almost 1,000 different locations to work on. Each pole replacement can take between a couple hours to an entire day to replace depending on the circumstances.
“Tree removal and splicing wires, safety precautions, working across bodies of water, backwoods terrain across the countryside—all of these are normal challenges during the storm,” continued Gill. “And of course, upset members or public officials as well.”
Despite the challenges the team faced, outages were completely restored within a week. With the storm being so big, the team expected it to take much longer. However, when Nov. 1. came around all power outages were restored to all Carroll EMC members.
“We got it done more quickly than expected,” said Gill. “We had close to 300 personnel in the field including contracted crews and other co-op linemen from four states. We also had another 100 or so employees supporting, engineers, call center, communications and warehouse.”