Overnight, SECO’s service territory suffered significant damage from Irma’s hurricane-force winds. More than 110,000 members are without power. Statewide, nearly 7 million people – nearly 60 percent of Florida – do not have power. SECO members struggled today to report outages because Century Link phone lines are down and SECO’s online Storm Center platform has been inundated with more than a million hits since 5 am. SECO asks that members who have already reported an outage refrain from reporting it again.
High wind gusts continue to hamper restoration efforts across the counties we serve. Restoration began around noon today with tree contractors and line crews paired together for the daunting work of clearing limbs and fallen trees before electric equipment repair/replacement can take place. The outages affect 100 of our 197 feeders, so half of SECO’s electric system is disabled. Eight SECO substations are completely out due to transmission outages – including six Duke Energy transmission outages, one City of Ocala transmission outage, and one SECO-owned transmission outage.
SECO CEO Jim Duncan stated, “SECO has developed a priority restoration plan and has deployed local crews and outside resources in Marion, Lake, Sumter and Citrus counties. Per Florida regulatory requirements, substations and feeders with hospitals, shelters, schools and government agencies are the highest priority. The next priority is to restore power to large groups of members, and then to less populated areas with individual electric services.” The company anticipates that up to 25,000 members’ service could be restored in the first 24 hours of restoration, and crews will continue to work round the clock until all service is restored.
Though SECO staged hundreds of contract line and tree crew members in advance along with heavy equipment, more manpower is needed based on the significant damage. The company is working to secure additional resources. Fuel is in very short supply, and SECO is working with Governor Scott’s office to secure tankers of diesel and unleaded fuel. Transportation is also challenging with trees and lines down. Restoration may take days or even weeks, dependent on manpower and fuel.
Seek shelter if you or your loved ones need power to run life-saving medical devices. Floridians can access www.floridadisaster.org/shelters for shelter information by county, including general population shelters, pet-friendly shelters and special needs shelters.
If you are using a portable or backup generator, never let it run in enclosed spaces. Generators emit carbon monoxide gas that is a silent, odorless killer. Ensure these are connected correctly. Do not tamper with a meter to connect a generator as this requires a licensed electrician. Safety tips and storm preparation tips are available on SECO’s website.
To avoid scams and dangers, do not accept restoration or tree trimming assistance from someone who is asking for payment on the spot and is not a SECO employee or contractor. Under no circumstances would SECO ask for payment in the field during a restoration event. Do not attempt to reconnect services yourself.
As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, SECO is dedicated to being our members’ first source for accurate storm information. “Like” SECO’s Facebook page and “follow” the company on Twitter to stay updated about storms affecting our area.