Powering Strong Communities
Disaster Response and Mutual Aid

Florida Public Power Utilities Prepare for Arrival of Idalia

Florida public power utilities were hard at work on Aug, 28 preparing for the arrival of Tropical Storm Idalia, which was expected to make landfall on Wednesday as a major hurricane.

“The Florida Municipal Electric Association is preparing for Tropical Storm Idalia, which is expected to intensify into a major hurricane before coming ashore on Florida’s west coast on Wednesday,” said Amy Zubaly, Executive Director for the Florida Municipal Electric Association.

“We have been and will remain in contact with our 33 member utilities to identify any power restoration needs they might anticipate in advance of impacts from the storm,” she said.

“At our request this weekend, our national network of mutual aid has been activated. We are working with the American Public Power Association and its network of 2,000 public power utilities across the country to identify personnel and equipment resources that will be ready to assist Florida’s recovery efforts.”

Currently, more than 30 utilities from Georgia, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Ohio, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, and Alabama have answered the call to provide mutual aid assistance, she noted.

Crews are deploying from their respective states Aug. 28 and will be pre-positioned in Florida or nearby so they can enter impacted areas to assist with power restoration as soon as it is safe.

“We have also been in communication with Governor DeSantis and the Florida Division of Emergency Management, along with other Florida utilities. We will continue to work closely with our partners at the state and local emergency operations centers as Tropical Storm Idalia moves closer to Florida’s shores and throughout recovery efforts,” Zubaly said.

Orlando, Fla.-based public power utility OUC said that it was closely watching Tropical Storm Idalia and making preparations in case its service area is impacted.

Florida public power utility Kissimmee Utility Authority said that it had activated its Emergency Operations Plan in anticipation of a potential impact from Tropical Storm Idalia.

KUA said it is currently operating at Alert Level 3 and will advance to Alert Level 4 once the storm is within 24 hours of impacting its 85-square mile service territory in Osceola County.

“Depending on its path, Idalia may be capable of causing widespread power outages. In addition, restoration may be hampered by flooding, downed trees, high winds or other obstacles,” it said. “Once wind speeds reach 45 mph or more, crews can no longer safely restore power.”

KUA crews “are prepared to work long hours after the storm passes, conducting their damage assessment analysis and restoring service to customers as quickly and as safely as possible.”

KUA said that electric vehicle owners can utilize KUA’s network of electric vehicle chargers available throughout KUA’s service territory, should power go out.

Meanwhile, the public power city of Tallahassee, Fla., said in a tweet that city departments have made adjustments to respond to Idalia. “City crews & mutual aid support are on standby, ready to be deployed. Vehicles and equipment have been fueled and checked for supplies,” it said.

Crews from Missouri, Arkansas Head to Florida

Public power electric line crews from Missouri and Arkansas are on their way to Florida, ready to perform recovery work in the wake of Tropical Storm Idalia.

Organized by the Missouri Public Utility Alliance, lineworker crews from 15 utilities are travelling to Jacksonville, preparing to respond to power outages at Florida municipal utilities after the storm passes.

The combined response involves 68 lineworkers and other utility personnel from the 13 Missouri cities of Carthage, Chillicothe, Columbia, Hannibal, Higginsville, Independence, Kennett, Macon, Nixa, Odessa, Palmyra, Poplar Bluff, and Springfield. They are also joined by a crew from Conway, Arkansas, and a crew from the MPUA Resource Services Corporation in Columbia.

The workers will stage in Jacksonville, equipped with more than 40 utility work vehicles, including bucket trucks, digger/derrick trucks, and other linework vehicles and equipment. The Missouri lineworkers’ Florida arrival is timed to be ahead of anticipated hurricane impacts on the Florida Gulf Coast.

Preparedness coordinators for the Florida Municipal Electric Association issued a call to the Missouri Public Utility Alliance for mutual aid assistance on Aug. 28, and the crews departed for Florida at different times from their hometown utilities later in the day.

The responding crews are from “public power” electric utilities, not-for-profit community-owned electric utilities that serve their individual cities, but also have agreements in place allowing staff to assist neighboring communities and states during widespread outages in other communities.

The mutual aid response us coordinated through MPUA’s Mutual Aid Network. Assisting cities are reimbursed by the municipal utilities receiving assistance.

Santee Cooper

South Carolina’s Santee Cooper on Aug. 28 said its team members are making preparations for the potential effects that Tropical Storm Idalia may have on Santee Cooper’s direct and indirect service territory.

As of noon Aug. 28, Santee Cooper went to Operating Condition 4 alert status. This means there is a possible threat to Santee Cooper’s electric system, but effects may be limited or uncertain.

At OpCon 4, the utility is primarily checking and fueling vehicles, including line trucks, making sure communications equipment is in proper working order and taking inventory and procuring supplies as needed, such as utility poles, electric transformers and associated equipment.

“Santee Cooper is monitoring the storm and preparing accordingly so we are positioned to address any power or water issues that Idalia may present for our customers across the state,” said Jimmy Staton, President and CEO. “If outages do occur, we will begin restoration efforts as soon as we safely can.”