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Co-ops prepare for winter storm

Bill Stephens

February 1st, 2022

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Kentucky’s electric co-ops urge members to prepare

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Feb. 1, 2022) – Electric cooperatives across Kentucky are preparing for a major storm system forecast for Kentucky beginning Wednesday into early Friday morning, including the possibility of flooding, freezing rain, sleet and snow.

Of particular concern are significant accumulations of freezing rain. An ice storm could result in power outages across the state. As little as a quarter-inch of ice typically causes some outages. A half-inch of ice could lead to outages lasting several days, depending on the terrain and the proximity of trees to utility poles and electric lines.

Though co-ops practice a culture of safety and perpetual preparedness, crews and support staff are gearing up for outage restoration. Each co-op has an Emergency Preparedness Plan and is in constant contact with emergency officials, fellow co-ops in surrounding states and each other to strategize and respond to the winter storms.

Electric cooperatives are stressing safety and encouraging co-op consumer-members to prepare for power outages and avoid any downed lines.

“Ice and tree limbs falling on power lines can cause lines to snap off the poles or the poles to break,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “That can bring power lines into contact with the ground, trees, homes, vehicles and other objects. If people or pets come in contact with a live power line, they can suffer serious injury or even death.”

When an ice storm struck Kentucky one year ago, co-ops reported that the primary cause of power outages in some areas of the state were drivers losing control on black ice and striking utility poles.
Due to dangerous conditions, many residents may be confined to their homes for days at a time. To prepare for prolonged outages, co-ops advise consumer-members to charge mobile phones and power banks and pack a storm preparedness kit stocked with:  

Bottled water
Non-perishable food 
Emergency blankets
First aid kit/medicine
Flashlight
Battery operated or hand-crank radio
Extra batteries
Toiletries

While indoors, many will turn their focus to staying warm.

If homes are not using a generator, keep warm air in and cool air out by not opening doors to unused rooms. Do not open doors to the outdoors unless necessary. 

Food safety is also important when there is a prolonged outage. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible, and eat perishable food first. Stock up on ice so that you can keep things in coolers to keep them from going bad if an outage lasts longer than a day. Once the refrigerator reaches temperatures higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, foods can become unsafe to eat. 

To protect homes’ electrical equipment during an outage, turn off and unplug all unnecessary electronics or appliances. This will keep equipment from being damaged by surges or spikes when the power returns.

Once an outage is over, there are still safety precautions to take. Electrical power lines could still be down. If you see downed power lines, do not touch them. Call your local co-op or 911.

United Utility Supply
The emergency response plan remains active at United Utility Supply, a leading material supply organization serving the rural electric market with headquarters in Louisville.

“As a cooperative partner, UUS stands ready with material, personnel and other co-op needs,” Perry said.

UUS serves electric cooperatives in 17 states with a complete line of materials critical to the electric utility industry, such as transformers, conductor (electric wires), poleline hardware, grounding equipment, utility poles, tools, and safety supplies. ###
About Kentucky Electric Cooperatives 
Kentucky’s electric cooperatives serve more than 1.5 million people—about 35% of the state’s population—in 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. Kentucky Electric Cooperatives is the statewide association which provides representation before the General Assembly, Congress, and regulatory bodies; safety training; coordination of management training; and public relations support including publication of Kentucky Living magazine. Kentucky Electric Cooperatives is governed by a board consisting of one manager and one director from each of its 26 member systems and is headquartered in Louisville.

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