Volunteer Energy Cooperative works to restore power to final three customers

Volunteer Energy Cooperative works to restore power to final three customers

March 6th, 2012 by Ellis Smith in Local - Breaking News

A backhoe drags metal power line scaffolding near Harrison, Tenn.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Volunteer Electric Cooperative reported Tuesday afternoon that only three of its customers are still without power after Friday's tornadoes knocked out seven substations and took 26,000 customers off the grid.

The substations were knocked offline when nearby TVA transmission lines failed, according to Volunteer Electric spokesman Robert McCarty. When workers restored the lines, the repair turned the power back on for 19,000 customers, he said.

"All available crews from across VEC's 17-county service area as well as contract crews and additional tree-trimming crews were called in," McCarty wrote in a news release.

In the Chattanooga area, EPB reported on Sunday that it had restored power to all but 90 of its customers, and restored power to the remainder on Monday. However, about 30 customers' homes were so badly damaged that spokeswoman Deborah Dwyer said that "restoring electricity will not be immediate because of rebuilding and or major repairs required."

About 3,600 EPB customers initially lost power, and another 3,150 briefly lost power before the utility's Smart Grid re-routed power and restored their electricity instantly.

"Everybody's done, and from a power, electric and fiber perspective we're rebuilt out there so when those people are ready to be put back online, we're ready to serve them," Dwyer said Tuesday.

In Georgia, a total of 7,000 customers lost power at the height of the storm, with virtually all of those restored by Monday, according to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

In the combined EPB and VEC service area, a total of about 35,000 customers lost power at some point during the storm.Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at esmith@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6315.