Electric companies prepare for more potential outages

By Stacy

MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCIV) -- The winter blast two weeks ago could've been a warm-up for dispatchers at Berkeley Electric Cooperative in Moncks Corner. Now, they are ready again, though they are optimistic this storm will not be as detrimental to the Lowcountry as the first.

"All staff is on call inside and out. Everyone's ready to go, in the event that we need them," Berkeley Electric Cooperative CEO Dwayne Cartwright said.

Electric company officials expected the most power outages in the Lowcountry to occur in northwest Berkeley County and the Summerville area, though they believed the Midstate would be hit harder than the Lowcountry. Officials expected ice to weigh down and wind to knock down power lines. An inch of ice could put 1,000 pounds of pressure on the power lines and recent warm temperatures could make damages worse in terms of falling trees, Cartwright said.

"We've had warm weather, the ground is saturated and the tops of those [trees] with the heavy icing, they're going to go over," Cartwright said.

SCE&G had to recall crews helping in Maryland and Pennsylvania to deal with South Carolina's winter weather.

"They came back yesterday and they are rested and ready to respond to power outages here," said Kim Asbill, spokeswoman for SCE&G.

Now they wait, to see if they're needed here in the Lowcountry or elsewhere across South Carolina. Lowcountry crews will assist in other parts of the state if they are not all needed.

SCE&G officials say they have a tier system to handle power restoration. They respond first to "critical customers," Asbill said.

"Critical customers would be hospitals, nursing homes, municipal complexes or emergency management," Asbill said.

Officials warned residents to be prepared for potential power outages by having food, water, batteries and flashlights at home and charging cell phones. Electric company officials also warned people not to touch downed power lines. Call your company if you see one or if your service goes out.

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