Disaster Response and Mutual Aid

Kentucky public power utilities help co-ops with storm recovery

Kentucky public power utilities Paducah Power Systems, the Princeton Electric Plant Board and Madisonville Municipal Utility Department recently sent crews to help two cooperatives in the state with power restoration efforts after severe storms hit the state.

Several storms battered Western Kentucky starting the afternoon of Friday, June 21, through the afternoon of Sunday, June 23.

Chris Burton, Operations Superintendent/Safety Director at Princeton, Kentucky’s Princeton Electric Plant Board, said that it is hard to pin down the actual peak number of outages that resulted from the storms. “I have seen some posts from the statewide co-op group that indicated there were over 20,000 customers out at peak outages,” he noted in an email. But the outage number “bounced around all weekend long.  Every day a new storm would blow through causing more outages.”

Burton noted that Paducah Power Systems sent crews to help Jackson Purchase Energy, a cooperative based in Paducah, Kentucky, on the morning of Saturday, June 22. Paducah Power Systems and Jackson Purchase arranged the mutual aid between each other.

Burton contacted Pennyrile Rural Electric Cooperative in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, on Saturday morning “just to let them know that we were willing to come and help if the extra help was needed.” 

At approximately 12:30 p.m. Saturday the Operations Manager for Pennyrile called Burton back and accepted the help. 

Burton noted that after Penyrile accepted the offer of assistance, he then contacted Chris Melton, electric superintendent at Madisonville, to see if Madisonville would be willing to send help and Melton said they would. 

The Princeton Electric Plant Board and the Madisonville Municipal Utility Department sent one 3-man crew from each department to help. 

Burton was told at the time that there were 1,500 customers still out when crews arrived. The crews worked from 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon to 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning.  At that time there were still a few hundred customers out, so by the time rest time for the crews would have ended the majority of the customers were back on, so the crews did not go back that afternoon.  

“It’s good to be able to go help your neighbors, that way whenever it comes back around they can come help you, especially when it’s close by,” said Seth Wyatt, a Princeton Electric Plant Board lineman, in an interview with the American Public Power Association.

Matt Hoard, a Princeton Electric Plant Board line foreman, said “once we got there, all they knew is they had power out,” so the assisting crews had to assess the situation and find the trouble spots. “Depending on what it was, we would have to get clearance through their dispatch and do our testing and our grounding and fix whatever the problem was,” Hoard said.

“These two guys did all the climbing” and worked very hard, said Burton.

Burton noted that he also “helped our crew from Princeton to help get the lines back up.”

During the storm event, Princeton only had 30 residential customers lose power for a short duration of time, which in turn allowed the public power utility to send help right away to Penyrile.

Power has been restored to all customers from the storm related outages and all crew members have returned home from the storm work.