HUGHESVILLE, Md. (September 3, 2011)—After Hurricane Irene rolled into the Southern Maryland area on Saturday, August 27, Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) worked on restoring electric service and making repairs throughout the service area until Friday night.
Outages began Saturday morning at 11 a.m. and peaked 12 hours later on Sunday morning at 1 a.m. when approximately 109,000 customer-members were without power: 40,600 customer-members in St. Marys County, 29,800 in Calvert, and 29,200 in Charles County, and 8,600 in Prince Georges County. SMECO was confronted with 11 transmission circuits that were out of service and 18 substations and 82 feeders that were de-energized.
The hardest hit areas of Southern Maryland were the waterfront and those near the rivers and Bay. The heavy rain and strong winds resulting from Irene took down trees which fell on power lines and broke poles and caused extensive damage to SMECOs electric system.
SMECO crews worked to restore electric service, along with Pike, Asplundh, CW Wright, Penn Line, and Muskgrove crews. Crews from the following electric cooperatives in Alabama assisted: Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, Black Warrior Electric Membership Corp., Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative, Cullman Electric Cooperative, Dixie Electric Cooperative, Pioneer Electric Cooperative, and Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative. Crews from the following electric cooperatives in Georgia assisted with power restoration: Cobb EMC, Irwin EMC, Sumter EMC, Carroll EMC, Planters EMC, Southern Rivers Energy, Middle Georgia EMC, Altamaha EMC, Canoochee EMC, and Jefferson Energy Cooperative.
Hurricane Irene caused more damage and more outages than at any time in the history of our cooperative, said Austin J. Slater Jr., president and CEO of SMECO. Yet, the restoration process that followed this destruction was the most well-coordinated, organized, and executed storm response I have ever witnessed. According to Slater, employees from all areas of the co-op including safety division personnel, meter operations, collectors, contact center representatives, materials management personnel, information technology, and the system operations center were integral to SMECOs service restoration process. In addition, all the necessary equipment and materials required for restoring service were available.
SMECO had restored power by Wednesday night to most customer-members affected by the hurricane and without power in Charles and Prince Georges counties. As of 7 p.m. Friday, September 3, 32 customer-members remain without power in St. Marys and Calvert counties.