The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, including Van Buren County’s Petit Jean Electric Cooperative, have dispatched 145 linemen and equipment to assist electric cooperatives in Florida and South Carolina with major power outage restoration efforts caused by Hurricane Irma.
Kevin Riddle, who coordinates mutual aid assistance arrangements for Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, said he has been working closely with cooperatives in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and other impacted states, and is coordinating the effort for Arkansas cooperative crews.
About 100 of the linemen will focus their efforts in cooperatives in South Carolina, while 45 linemen will assist in restoring service in Florida. He said Arkansas electric cooperative crews began rolling east over the weekend and all crews should be on the road by Monday to begin assistance efforts. Riddle said the number of Arkansas crews may increase as damage assessments are finalized by cooperatives in impacted areas.
“A key aspect of electric cooperatives is a willingness to always be on the ready to assist other cooperatives and utilities in times of need,” said Duane Highley, president/CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “Our thoughts and prayers go to victims of the hurricane and with our linemen who will work to help them regain electric service where possible. Godspeed to the brave men and bless their families.”
Arkansas electric cooperative crews assisting in the restoration efforts include linemen from: Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., of Little Rock; Carroll Electric Cooperative of Berryville; C&L Electric Cooperative of Star City; Clay County Electric Cooperative of Corning; Craighead Electric Cooperative of Jonesboro; First Electric Cooperative of Jacksonville; North Arkansas Electric Cooperative of Salem; Ouachita Electric Cooperative of Camden; Ozarks Electric Cooperative of Fayetteville; South Central Arkansas Electric Cooperative of Arkadelphia; Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative of Texarkana; and Woodruff Electric Cooperative of Forrest City.
The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.