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DREMC Gets Electric Power Back On– Prepares For Next Storm

Crews working earlier in the week to get electric power restored.. Photo by Tiffany Clutter

Crews working earlier in the week to get electric power restored.. Photo by Tiffany Clutter

Monday’s winter storm left more than 13,000 members of Duck River Electric Membership Corp. in the dark and cold. Mutual aid crews from other electric cooperatives, municipal utilities and contract companies assisted DREMC line workers in getting the lights back on.
“I am very proud of what was accomplished,” said Michael Watson, DREMC president and CEO. “The line crews worked safely and managed to restore power to most of our members on Wednesday.”
DREMC’s Facebook page buzzed with thanks for the men in hard hats who wrestled with ice-laden power lines and utility poles, dodged falling trees and limbs, and contended with freezing wind chill and plunging temperatures to get the job done.
On Wednesday, more than 200 linemen and other personnel fanned out in Bedford, Marshall and Coffee counties to continue clearing storm debris from rights of way, replace broken poles and raise fallen power lines.
“It is remarkable what they achieved,” Watson said. “After starting the day with more than 2,800 folks still out of service, they whittled the number down to only a few.”
The contribution of the entire DREMC team, from radio dispatchers to those who answered tens of thousands of telephone calls, made him proud, Watson said.
What co-op employees called the “February Freeze of ’15” was the worst winter storm to hit DREMC’s service territory since the late 1990s, according to veterans of both events.
The damage and outages were mainly along a diagonal swath cut through the middle of the service area. The Lewisburg (Marshall County), Shelbyville (Bedford County) and Manchester (Coffee County) districts were hardest hit.
Today (Friday), another round of winter weather is predicted by forecasters, with more snow, sleet and freezing rain in the offing before a warmup with rain over the weekend.
The problem is the possibility of more ice buildup on lines and trees. There will be little or no melting before the next front hits. The worst-case scenario, which DREMC must plan for, is a repeat of power outages on some scale.
Watson pointed out that DREMC rights-of-way are kept clear on a regular trimming cycle, but most of the outages this week were caused by large trees off the ROW bending, breaking or falling toward the power lines.