CEO’s Message: Ready for the Storm

June 2023

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

Hurricane season probably isn’t most SVEC members’ favorite time to be a Floridian. For most of the year, we can revel in the ample sunshine and natural beauty that defines this region. But we always enjoy those benefits knowing we’ll need to prepare for the possibility of less-friendly weather down the road.

As individuals, that isn’t something we can leave to the last minute. We know that we need to make our plans with family members, prepare kits of supplies for a worst-case scenario and fortify our homes as much as we can long before the clouds begin to gather and the winds pick up.

It’s the same for us as your cooperative. At SVEC, we plan for hurricane season all year long to make sure our consumer-members have the reliable electric service they need, even during the worst weather. While preventing every outage is impossible, we can always take steps to reduce them and cut down the time it takes us to respond when they occur.

We do that by maintaining and improving our system throughout the year, as well as trimming back tree branches that could fall and knock out service. We inspect thousands of pieces of equipment, including poles, lines and lightning arrestors, making sure they’re ready to stand up during a storm.

Last year, we also rolled out the ability for consumer-members to report and check on the status of outages by simply sending a text message. The easier it is for you to let us know when you’re experiencing an outage, the faster we can fix the problem.

Those efforts have served us well. In recent years we’ve been fortunate to not receive the full force of major storms. Even when our system was damaged by Hurricane Elsa in June 2021, leaving more than 12,000 consumer-members without power, we were able to restore power in just 24 hours with the help of contractors and mutual-aid cooperatives.

In those times when our system is spared, we return the favor by sending our crews to help out other cooperatives that haven’t been as lucky. That mutual support provides some extra peace of mind that when it’s our turn to repair widespread damage, we’ll be able to rely on the helping hands of our fellow cooperatives.

I hope all of you are as well prepared for hurricane season as your cooperative is. If you need a few ideas to get started, this newsletter can point you in the right direction. Whether it’s putting together a disaster preparedness kit, knowing how to safely use a backup generator or learning what repairs take priority after a storm, we’ve got you covered.