As a result of Hurricane Irma passing near our area on September 10-12, West Florida Electric Cooperative (WFEC) experienced outages across its four-county service area. The cooperative had a total of 279 outages impacting several thousand members throughout the day and night on that Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in Calhoun, Holmes, Jackson and Washington counties. All WFEC members had power restored to their homes by the afternoon of Tuesday, September 12. 80936002
Many other Florida cooperatives were not as fortunate as WFEC when it came to outages, so ten engineering and operations employees left Wednesday, September 13 to assist Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC), headquartered in Live Oak, Florida with their restoration process. SVEC had around 22,485 members without power on Monday, September 11, after the storm passed through their service area. Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative maintains over 4,300 miles of electric distribution line and serves an area of about 2,000 square miles. Out of 80,000 poles, over 145 of them were broken as the storm passed through. It can take 2 to 4 hours to replace just one broken pole. WFEC employees say they set & helped replace about 67 of those broken poles. 25437005
According to SVEC’s Facebook page, on September 16, the co-op and its mutual aid workers had restored 20,000 (89 percent) of the customers who lost power due to Hurricane Irma. Over 150 men from SVEC,
contractors and mutual aid electric cooperatives, like WFEC, assisted SVEC with their storm efforts. WFEC crews returned home from assisting SVEC with their restoration efforts on Tuesday, September 19.
As of September 18, Florida’s electric cooperatives were making steady progress in tough conditions and had restored more than 85 percent of the outages caused by Hurricane Irma, according to Mike Bjorklund, Manager of Florida Rural Electric Cooperative Association. As estimated 646,000 accounts were back online thanks to the hard work of nearly 4,100 co-op linemen from Florida and at least ten other states.