North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives Ready as Irene Lashes Coast

Raleigh, N.C. – North Carolina’s electric cooperatives, the primary power providers in coastal and rural areas of the state, are geared up for Hurricane Irene as she starts her climb up the East Coast. Forecasts predict torrential rain, gusty wind and destructive storm surges that will likely cause power outages.

“Already, Irene is lashing the coast,” said Jane Pritchard, director of corporate communications at North Carolina’s Association of Electric Cooperatives. “The co-ops have lined up the necessary resources to begin restoration of power as soon as the storm allows us.”

Cooperatives serving the coast are expected to take the hardest hit and have prepared by gathering supplies and checking that vehicles and equipment are in top condition. The Tarheel Electric Membership Association (TEMA), the cooperatives’ central supply center located in Raleigh, is stocked with plentiful supplies of poles, wires, transformers and other items needed to restore power should widespread outages occur. TEMA provides another vital service by contacting cooperatives in unaffected areas of the state and in neighboring states to arrange for power restoration assistance.

“Cooperative line workers receive identical training nationwide, which helps to streamline restoration efforts,” said Pritchard. “Our crews are able to enter another cooperative’s service areas and work side-by-side with local line workers.”

Cooperatives also have enlisted the help of contract line crews and tree trimming companies to begin clearing outage-causing debris, which often is required before line workers can begin restoring power.

It is important to remember that downed power lines are potentially deadly and should always be avoided. Assume that all power lines are energized, and call your local cooperative immediately to report any fallen lines.

North Carolina’s electric cooperatives serve more than 2.5 million people in 93 of the state’s 100 counties.