Alabama’s rural electric cooperatives are mobilizing to respond to outages caused by Hurricane Sally, which has left 77,000-plus members of Baldwin EMC, the state’s largest electric cooperative, without power and residential and business property destroyed or severely damaged. The figure represents 97 percent of the cooperative’s meters.
At least five other electric cooperatives in the south central portion of the state are also experiencing outages due to the storm.
Preliminary plans are to send crews from within Alabama to help restore power to five cooperatives hit by the storm, and to coordinate help from out-of-state co-op crews to assist in hard-hit Baldwin County, according to Matty Garr, vice-president of statewide services for the Alabama Rural Electric Association, which is coordinating the mutual aid response. Baldwin has requested at least 1,600 men to help in the effort.
Power restoration efforts will begin just as soon as conditions are safe, said Mark Ingram, Baldwin EMC vice president of corporate services and public relations. “We sympathize with our members and ask for their understanding and patience while our employees work to restore their power,” he said.
Sally’s strong winds and heavy rains have damaged power lines and equipment. Reports of downed trees and power lines with numerous power poles broken are coming in from across the Baldwin service area. There was also damage to some transmission lines that feed power to the substations and equipment in some locations is under water.
Alabama’s 22 rural electric cooperatives deliver power to more than 1 million people, or a quarter of the state’s population, and they maintain more than 71,000 miles of power line.