CEO’s Message — June 2020

Posted: June 4, 2020

Preparing for the Storm

CEO Michael S. McWaters
Michael S. McWaters Executive V.P./CEO

Floridians know a thing or two about storms. Most days, we get to enjoy the beautiful sunshine our state is known for. But each year, we also know we will face a hurricane season that could prove challenging.

That’s why it’s important to take a moment to make sure we have made all the necessary preparations before the clouds start gathering. With that in mind, I would like to remind our consumer-members of all the steps Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative has taken to both prevent outages and ensure those that we can’t avoid are brief.

In the last year, SVEC has inspected hundreds of poles to confirm their structural integrity and has trimmed trees along over 1,000 miles of electric lines to help prevent outages caused by falling limbs.

These efforts are part of the annual system maintenance to prepare our system to stand up to the inevitable storms. Since last summer, we have also been testing sturdier tree wire, designed to provide extra protection for power lines when debris or wildlife come into contact with them.

SVEC also continues to benefit from our Advanced Meter Infrastructure, which helps quickly pinpoint the cause of an outage so line crews know exactly where to go. Our automated vehicle location system even lets dispatchers coordinate crews across the entire system, while the cooperative’s on-site fuel station allows SVEC crews to respond to outage reports even when local gas stations are without power or fuel.

All of those steps and more added up to SVEC’s most reliable year ever in 2019. The average amount of time a residential member was without power due to controllable circumstances was two and a half hours, a 51% reduction since 2014.

That wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of our employees. Their efforts have made our system more storm-resistant than it has ever been.

But even so, it can never be entirely storm-proof. Persistent winds and rain are bound to cause outages, which is why we regularly update our Emergency Response Plan so everyone at the cooperative knows their role in getting the lights back on.

As always, we appreciate your patience as our crews make repairs. When storms do hit, we send linemen and other critical staff into the field as soon as they can safely begin to assess and repair the damage. After the well-being of our employees, the cooperative’s priority is restoring power to as many members as possible in the shortest amount of time.