EDITOR'S NOTE: Santee Electric has reported that more than 20,000 of its customers are still without power.Sonny Sanders sent this statement just a few moments ago about the situation and asks customers to be patient as crews continue to work on the problem.
I would like to thank Santee Electric Cooperative crews as well as other cooperatives and Duke Energy Progress, who responded diligently and as rapidly as conditions allowed to restore electric power to our consumers. I would also like to thank the companies from other states that came in to provide assistance to our crews so they could serve our consumers more efficiently.
This winter storm dealt a significant blow to electric cooperatives serving our consumers affecting more than 50 percent of their customers. The amount of damage is equal to, if not greater than the damage of Hurricane Hugo.
Some cooperatives have never seen damage on this scale before and for some this is a historic storm with historic damage. Santee Electric Cooperative reported the largest number of outages in the state with more than 42,000 of its 44,000 members without electric power at one time. That total represents more than 90 percent of our entire system, which includes Clarendon, Williamsburg, Georgetown and Florence counties.
In addition to our local crews already working full time on repairs, many additional line workers from other states are helping Santee Electric and other cooperatives to restore power working around the clock, but the damage is so vast it may be early in the week to come before all service is restored.
Santee Electric and other coops have a huge task. Even under the best conditions restoring power to some rural areas is a big challenge. The number of downed trees is a huge hurdle — there are crews literally cutting their way to get to down lines.
Crews first have to work on the single source of the most outages-transmission lines which supply power to the substations. Then they work their way to distribution lines and finally to individual homes where service has been knocked out.
All electric cooperatives are aware of members with special circumstances. We strive to restore power to those individuals as soon as possible, but they encourage these members to seek alternative means for power. Once power is restored to a special-needs consumer, the co-op calls the consumer to verify that power is on.
We appreciate the employees of Santee Electric Cooperatives as well as other cooperatives, and workers from other states and companies who joined with us to restore electric power to our consumers. These employees braved the most unfavorable conditions in a dangerous environment working around the clock to serve our consumers.
I extend appreciation to our consumers who have been very patient and understanding as most of us have lived with the inconveniences and difficult situations during this devastating winter storm. Thank you for your prayers for the safety of the linemen who have worked around the clock to restore electric power to all our consumers.
Santee Electric Cooperative Trustee District 1