Gulf Power And EREC: ‘We Are Ready’

October 7, 2017

Both local electric utilities, Gulf Power and Escambia River Electric Cooperative, say they are ready for Nate.

GULF POWER

As Gulf Power customers and residents along the Gulf Coast prepare for impacts from Nate, the energy provider is preparing for potential impacts to its service area of heavy rain, wind and storm surge.

If Nate affects Northwest Florida, Gulf Power is expecting most of its impacts to be to the western portion of its service area. That does not rule out some minor impacts farther east to Panama City, Fla.

In preparation of the storm, all of Gulf Power’s 1,328 employees are shifting into storm mode and the company expects to activate the McCrary Storm & Training Center in Pensacola Saturday afternoon.

If Northwest Florida is impacted, Gulf Power crews are ready to restore power to customers after the storm, as soon as it’s safe to work. As a part of Southern Company, Gulf Power has secured extra crews from Georgia Power. The energy provider also has secured crews from Tennessee and Kentucky. These extra crews will be staging at Pensacola Fairgrounds.

As Gulf Power prepares for restoration, the utility encourages its customers to prepare to be without power for an extended period if tropical storm or hurricane-force winds and storm surge occur.

“Gulf Power has invested $225 million in ongoing storm resiliency projects across our region since Hurricane Ivan in 2004,” said Kimberly Blair, Gulf Power spokesperson. “Investments in our smart grid doesn’t mean customers won’t lose power during a storm. It means that our ongoing investment in our grid maintenance, upgrades and technology makes it much more resilient than years ago when Hurricane Ivan hit. Even though customers may lose power in a storm, a stronger grid means faster restoration times.”

Gulf Power teams rapidly deployed to restore power in less than two days when tropical force winds from Irma knocked out service to some 13,000 customers in the Panama City area.

“Our Gulf Power team trains and prepares for these storm events that have such a large impact on our communities and our customers’ lives,” said Blair. “We work hard to cultivate what we call a ‘culture of preparedness’. This culture has served our communities well in previous successful storm restoration events.”

The safety of Gulf Power customers is also important.

“We urge our customers to view storm safety tips on our website in preparation for the storm,” Blair said. “Most importantly we stress two important safety messages. If you see a downed power line, stay away and call 911 immediately. The line could still be energized and could also energize fences and other objects it’s touching. Also use your generators safely. Never use them indoors or in a garage. Three people died and several others were hospitalized from carbon monoxide poisoning when running a generator inside their homes after Hurricane Irma left them without power.

ESCAMBIA RIVER ELECTRIC

Escambia River Electric Cooperative, Inc. (EREC) employees have been placed on storm alert, and the emergency response plan has been activated in anticipation of possible effects of  Nate.  Members are encouraged to stay abreast of storm developments and take necessary safety precautions.

“We are watching Nate closely and all emergency response personnel are ready to respond to whatever the storm may bring our way.  Additional co-op crews are on stand-by status to speed the recovery process if needed,” said Clay Campbell, EREC CEO/general manager.

EREC reminds the public that, in the event of outages, crews will begin making system repairs as soon as safely possible.  Members are also encouraged to be mindful of their surroundings and to take safety precautions in the storm’s aftermath.

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