Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 36

GEORGIA'S Energy Outlook

By Dennis Chastain

EMCs rise to challenges
from Mother Nature

36

Georgia Magazine

January 2021

STACY PRITCHETT

I

t would be a gross understatement to say 2020 was one
for the record books. If a pandemic wasn't enough, last
year's Atlantic hurricane season was the most active and
destructive on record. While some businesses were forced to
shut down or suspend operations as the year unfolded, electric
membership cooperatives (EMCs) never paused or wavered in
their mission to keep the lights on-both here in Georgia and in
nearby states.
Georgia co-ops answered the call for help from Louisiana
and Alabama when these states were devastated by Hurricane
Laura in August and Hurricane Sally in September. Some crews
from Georgia spent up to 12 weeks in southwest Louisiana and
Alabama to help co-ops that saw as much as a 100 percent loss
of power after these storms.
And then Mother Nature brought more. In October, Tropical Storm Zeta tore through Georgia, bringing wind gusts of
more than 65 mph and extensive damage to the electric transmission and distribution system. Approximately 400,000 EMC
customers lost power, triggering a massive restoration effort
involving local EMC crews and hundreds of additional workers from across Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina and
Tennessee.
In addition to the need to work within COVID protocols,
other key factors made the Zeta recovery particularly difficult:
* Tropical Storm Zeta damaged a significant portion of the
transmission system. Twenty high-voltage transmission lines
were down as well as 80 electrical substations. Tucker-based
Georgia Transmission Corp. worked diligently to bring transmission lines and substations back to full operation, which
was crucial to the recovery effort.
* On the distribution side, the number of fallen trees, broken
power poles and downed power lines surpassed previous
records at many co-ops, making for a time-intensive and
challenging response.
Fortunately, EMCs participated in discussions with other
states prior to Zeta and secured additional linemen, support
personnel, supplies and other services. Resources were delivered and staged ahead of the storm in some instances and continued to arrive when ongoing assessments revealed the extent
of damage. Some EMCs determined that the damage rivaled
that of other memorable weather events, such as hurricanes
Matthew, Michael and Irma and winter storms Benji and Pax.
In spite of the challenges, EMCs restored service to nearly
all customers in less than six days. Many of these customers
live in rural areas of EMC systems that are remote and isolated.
State Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), who represents areas within
Jasper-based Amicalola EMC's service area, described the

Fort Oglethorpe-based North Georgia EMC lineworker Roger Tennant
and apprentice lineworkers Case Mathis and Leighton Steadman
hurry to replace a broken pole in a Walker County field before running
out of daylight.

undertaking as a " herculean " effort.
While the storms caused heartache and destruction, they
also served as a great reminder of the strength of the EMC network and how co-ops come together in a time of need. Linemen
and other EMC employees left their families for days and weeks
to lend support and offer help to complete strangers, as well as
their own members and communities.
Delivering electricity to 4.4 million Georgians during
COVID-19 has brought its own challenges, but Georgia's EMCs
have consistently stepped up to ensure that their members have
access to a steady supply of reliable electricity, especially at a
time when so many are working and learning from home.
As we begin 2021, the EMCs and Georgia EMC pledge the
same level of commitment and service to our member-owners
and wish you good health and happiness in the coming year.
Dennis Chastain is president/CEO of Tucker-based Georgia
EMC, the statewide trade association representing the state's
41 electric cooperatives, Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia
Transmission Corp. and Georgia Systems Operations Corp.



Georgia Magazine - January 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - January 2021

Contents
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 4
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 5
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 6
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 7
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 8
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 9
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 10
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 11
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 12
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 13
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 14
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 15
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 16
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 17
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 18
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 19
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 20
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 21
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 22
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 22A
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 22B
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 22C
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 22D
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 23
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 24
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 25
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 26
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 27
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 28
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 29
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 30
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 31
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 32
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 33
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 34
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 35
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 36
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 37
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 38
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 39
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 40
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 41
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 42
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - Cover4
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