Disaster Response and Mutual Aid

Tennessee public power utilities work to restore power in wake of severe storms

Several public power utilities in Tennessee on May 4 reported that they have begun to restore power to customers in the wake of severe storms that hit the state on May 3.

Nashville Electric Service

Nashville Electric Service on May 4 tweeted that power outages were under 80,000. “Since the storm, we have restored power to 50k customers. New storms approaching our area. Be prepared for additional damage. Crews will continue to work overnight on the remaining outages,” the utility said in the tweet.

NES in a news release said that the storms produced Category 1 Hurricane strength gusts of wind and recorded the fifth strongest wind gust ever recorded at Nashville International Airport. This is one of the largest power outages on record for NES. Straight-line winds between 60 mph – 80 mph knocked down trees, power lines and power poles, interrupting power to 130,000 customers at the storm’s peak. By way of comparison, a March 3 tornado left 50,000 without power.

NES said that so far, it had 51 broken poles and dozens of power lines and trees reported down.

 NES said that it had over 80 bucket trucks and dozens of crews working across the area to restore power as quickly as possible to all customers.

“Other utilities in the area were also hit hard by the storms, but NES has additional contract crews coming from other states to help with restoration efforts; however, COVID-19 and the widespread damage across the state are affecting the contract resources available,” the utility reported.

“Restoration time will depend on individual circumstances. In some cases, power could be out for one to two weeks. We realize this is unfortunate timing on the heels of the tornado and as we deal with combating COVID-19. NES is very empathetic to our customers that are impacted and we want to ensure you will do everything in our power to get power back in Music City as soon as possible.”

Dickson Electric System

Meanwhile, public power utility Dickson Electric System in Dickson, Tenn., reported in a May 4 tweet that this was the worst storm to hit the utility since a 1994 ice storm.

The utility said in a Facebook post that it has six contract crews "assisting us and 4 more on their way to help.” Dickson Electric said in the post that this would be a week-long recovery effort, “so we appreciate the support and patience from the communities we serve!”

As of 5:30 p.m., the utility reported in a tweet that it was down to 7,400 customers without power.


When severe weather and high winds swept the Chattanooga area through the night on May 3, utility poles and power lines were damaged across the community, Chattanooga’s public power utility EPB reported on May 4.

The city’s smart grid was able to prevent a lasting outage for most customers, noted J.Ed. Marston
Vice President, Marketing, at EPB.

In total, the storms damaged facilities that serve 15,640 households and businesses, EPB reported.

The smart grid was able to re-route power to prevent an outage or auto restore power to about 10,475 of these customers so that they did not experience a duration outage, Marston said.

The smart grid was able to maintain electric service to about 67% of customers who would have otherwise experienced a duration outage.

About 5,165 customers experienced a duration outage. By sunrise all but 900 of these customers had been restored. By noon, all but about 300 customers had been restored.

“We expect to restore the remainder in the next few hours,” Marston said in an email sent on Monday afternoon.

Chattanooga, Tenn.’s smart grid prevented about 44,000 customers from experiencing a power outage that would have lasted hours or perhaps days when tornados, heavy storms and high winds rolled across the community in April.

EPB has deployed a comprehensive community-wide fiber optic network accessible to every home and business in the utility’s 600 square mile service area.

Power outages also hit Alabama

Severe thunderstorms also knocked out power to customers in neighboring Alabama.

Public power utility Huntsville Utilities on the afternoon of May 4 reported that there were approximately 500 customers without power after a storm system with damaging winds moved through the area on Sunday. At its peak, around 10,000 customers lost power.