Electric Cooperatives from Northwest Florida and beyond have shifted their focus to hurricane preparedness as the season is underway.
After three straight years of hurricanes hitting the region, many have become familiar with terms like utility hardening, or the process of making hardware less susceptible to storm damage. But there’s much more that goes into preparing for severe weather.
Mike Temple, Director of administration for Talquin Electric Cooperative, says his company is working on improving accommodations for its mutual aid partners.
“The logistics side of it is so important, to take care of those 600 or 700 people, including our 200 employees, is very difficult,” Temple said Wednesday during a press event. “So, this time of year, we’re talking to local vendors that feed those mutual aid crews that come in from out of state, we’re talking to hotels to be able to house them.”
In a storm, Temple says, fallen trees represent the majority of damage to Talquin systems. As a result, the company spends $4 million dollars a year to manage trees and other vegetation surrounding its power lines. But in places they can’t, technology is put to use.
“There’s places in Tallahassee, these canopy roads, that don’t allow us to do that,” Temple said. “So, some of these canopy roads we have put up tree wire, wire that’s actually insulated, so that the trees when they touch the line, won’t knock the line out.”
For any utility company in the aftermath of a storm, communication with customers is key. Kaitlynn Culpepper, community relations director for Tri-County Electric Cooperative, advises people to establish those lines of communication before an outage happens.
“Reach out, whether you’re a Tri-County member, or Duke Energy, or another Co-Op –make sure that your account information is correct, make sure your phone number is up to date, make sure that you have all of their means of communication,” Culpepper said. “Whether you follow them on Facebook, download their mobile app, sign up for their texting, all of that stuff – doing that in advance makes it a lot easier to report your outage.”
This hurricane season so far has brought two named storms, including Hurricane Barry, which missed Florida and hit Louisiana.