In the wake of Michael, public power makes restoration push

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Public power utilities in states impacted by Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in Florida on Oct. 10 as a Category 4 hurricane, are making a concerted push to bring the lights back on to customers who lost power as a result of the storm.

Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Fla., on the afternoon of Oct. 10, before moving across the southeast of the U.S., across Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and southeastern Virginia.

In a situation report released on the morning of Sunday, Oct. 14, the Department of Energy reported customer outage figures for the following states as of 7:00 a.m. EDT:

  • Alabama: 6,570 customer outages (0.3%), decrease of 37% since last report

  • Florida: 200,762 customer outages (2%), decrease of 19% since last report

  • Georgia: 152,724 customer outages (3.2%), decrease of 14% since last report

  • North Carolina: 109,473 customer outages (2.2%), decrease of 42% since last report

  • Virginia: 84,245 customer outages (2.2%), decrease of 44% since last report

The American Public Power Association continues to monitor Michael and as of Oct. 14 the response falls under the category of a Mutual Aid Playbook activation level 3 (regional event). The Association is also coordinating daily conference calls with relevant public power coordinators who provide updates on restoration efforts and outage totals.

Florida

As of the morning of Oct. 14, the city of Tallahassee, Fla., was 85% restored, with 18,000 customers out, the Florida Municipal Electric Association reported, with the expectation of being 90% restored by the end of the day.

public power crews made tremendous progress working through the night to get power restored as quickly as possible.
— Michelle Vaught | ElectriCities of North Carolina

FMEA reported on the afternoon of Oct. 12 that 100 percent of customers in the public power cities of Quincy, Chattahoochee and Blountstown and Town of Havana were without power, but that once transmission to those communities is restored, some customers would begin to come back online. 

On the morning of Oct. 14, FMEA reported that Havana had its transmission energized on Oct. 13 and was expecting 70-75% of load to be back up.

Quincy had its transmission energized Oct. 14. Chattahoochee also had its transmission energized. As of the morning of Oct. 14, Blountstown still did not have its transmission energized.

Amy Zubaly, executive director of FMEA, has taken the lead in terms of coordinating all mutual aid in Florida. Along with her role as executive director of the FMEA, Zubaly is the Mutual Aid Working Group Network Coordinator from Florida.

Other states in the Southeast

Meanwhile, in Alabama, as of the morning of Oct. 12, the city of Dothan had more than 30,000 outages at peak but was down to under 14,000 outages. Hartford had transmission restored as of 3 p.m. on Oct. 11. In an update on the morning of Oct. 14, Electric Cities of Alabama reported that Dothan was down to 4,000 customers out and work in Dothan was expected to be wrapped up on Oct. 15.

In Georgia, as of the morning of Oct. 12, 14 members of Electric Cities of Georgia were still relying on mutual aid crews, with 270 personnel scattered throughout the southwest part of the state.

In an update from the morning of Oct. 14, Electric Cities of Georgia reported that the transmission has been energized in almost all of its cities.

Michelle Vaught, vice-president of corporate communications for ElectriCities of North Carolina, said in an email that as of the morning of Oct. 12, “we have approximately 1,000 outages statewide. This was after a peak of approximately 26,000 late yesterday afternoon. But public power crews made tremendous progress working through the night to get power restored as quickly as possible.”

ElectriCities of North Carolina on the morning of Oct. 14 reported having about a dozen outages that would be taken care of that morning.  

Mutual aid

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Public power utility crews from several states not hit by Michael are in the affected states and helping with mutual aid restoration efforts. Prior to Michael’s landfall, the Association’s mutual aid network was up and running, with public power utilities from several states sending crews to the region.

A great example of how mutual aid works on the ground was highlighted by FMEA on Oct. 12. FMEA posted a photo on its Twitter feed Friday afternoon of crew members from Louisiana’s Lafayette Utilities System and Florida’s Lakeland Electric working side-by-side to get power restored in Tallahassee.

On Oct. 13, the Office of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum tweeted, “Grateful for all our mutual aid partners who stepped up to help our #Tallahassee community.”