Few Power Outages Remain Following Historic Ice Storm
As of 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time about 132 customers remain without power across Volunteer Energy Cooperative’s 17-county service area following the most devastating ice storm in the cooperative’s history.
VEC Vice President of Operations Clyde Jolley said the majority of remaining outages are in Cumberland County (130) where structural damage prevents crews from re-starting power safely.
“Most of these remaining outages involve damage to the customer’s service entry,” he said. “These customers will need to get that damage repaired before we can restore power.”
In Cumberland County, where the damage was most extensive, veteran emergency responders said the damage was comparable to an F-2 tornado hitting the entire county.
“In my 42-years with VEC, this is one of the worst weather events I’ve ever seen,” Jolley said. “We had more than 700 broken poles and an estimated $9.5 million in damage to the system.”
At the peak of the storm about 40,000 VEC customers lost power in Cumberland, Fentress, Putnam, Overton, and Bledsoe counties. TVA transmission line outages caused a loss of power to five VEC substations and major breakers were lost at three other substations.
VEC crews are still working to permanently repair damage where temporary repairs were used to restore power to customers as quickly as possible. At the height of the restoration efforts 60 line crews and 35 tree trimming crews were working 16-hour shifts to access and repair damaged equipment.
VEC crews received assistance from crews from Appalachian Electric Cooperative, Athens Utility Board, Caney Fork Electric Cooperative, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, Fort Loudon Electric Cooperative, Holston Electric Cooperative, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, Rockwood Electric Utilities, Sequatchee Valley Electric Cooperative, Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, as well as numerous contract crews from Davis Elliott, Galloway, MPS, Seelbach, and Service Electric.
Emergency response crews in several counties also helped clearing roadways and assisted crews in accessing damage.
VEC President/CEO Rody Blevins said a total of about 650 people were on the scene working to restore power and were supported by dozens of other staff members.
“We appreciate the hard work of our folks and the help we received from around the region,” Blevins said. “And we especially appreciate the patience and support from all our members who were affected by this devastating storm.”
“This has been one of the most challenging weather events in the history of Volunteer Energy Cooperative and we are very grateful for the cooperation, dedication, and patience of everyone involved.”
Volunteer Energy Cooperative is a not-for-profit electricity distribution cooperative serving 114,000 members across a 17-county service area.