COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Crews from eight South Carolina electric cooperatives are coming to the aid of a pair of utilities in eastern Virginia. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, more than 1.1 million people in that state are without electricity, marking the second largest power outage in Virginia history.
On Sunday morning,16 construction crews drawn from Aiken, Blue Ridge, Fairfield, Newberry, Santee, and Tri-County Electrical Cooperatives departed for Crewe, Virginia to support the restoration efforts of Southside Electrical Cooperative.
Also assisting are four service crews from Edisto and Marlboro Electrical Cooperatives who left for Warsaw, Virginia today to help restore power for the consumers served by Northern Neck Electric Cooperative.
"We got the call from Virginia this morning that they needed help, and our guys were on the road before noon," said Todd Carter, Vice President of Loss Control & Training at The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina Inc., the state trade association for electric cooperatives. Carter says 83 South Carolina cooperative employees "are prepared to be in Virginia for at least a week, maybe ten days."
One day after Hurricane Irene lashed eastern Virginia, utilities are still assessing the scope of the damage. Carter says more crews from South Carolina cooperatives may be called upon in the next 24 hours to provide further assistance. "If they need the help, we'll do what we can to make sure they get it."
The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc. is the state association of independent, member-owned electric cooperatives. More than 1.5 million South Carolinians in all 46 counties use power provided by electric cooperatives. Together, the co-ops operate the state's largest electric power system with more than 70,000 miles of power lines across 70 percent of the state.