How elected officials are helping Southside Electric Cooperative restore power to 20,000+

Southside Electric Cooperative.jpg
Posted at 4:42 PM, Feb 19, 2021

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. -- Elected officials all over Virginia are now involved in trying to help Southside Electric Cooperative customers get their power restored, and the co-cop announced late Friday Dominion Energy will also provide help.

The Southside Electric Cooperative provides power for 55,000 customers across 18 different counties between Petersburg and Roanoke.

But, nearly a week after the first of two ice storms hit the area, roughly 40% of their customers remain without power.

"They don't have enough people," Chesterfield Supervisor Kevin Carroll said.

Many of those 20,999 customers have reached out to CBS 6 and elected officials like Carroll for help, wondering why Dominion Energy, which provides power to customers in the same service area, was able to restore power to the vast majority of its customers there, but Southside Electric has not.

"I would like to hear them say we've contacted Dominion and they're sending help and we are going to get as many people restored as possible, that's my goal," Carroll said about SEC.

State Senator Joe Morrissey said his office is in communication with the co-op.

"Initially SEC did not do as good a job as they should have done at communicating, now they are doing better, they are communicating with my office and other legislators offices and we have got to make sure that continues," Morrissey said.

Morrissey and Delegate Lashrecse Aird, who both have constituents still without power, said Southside told them they have somewhere between 313 and 400 workers in the field working to restore power through mutual aid agreements with mutual partners.

Aird also said Dominion Energy will send crews to assist.

"As legislators we can also communicate with the cooperative in saying this is crucial, this is important, the consumers are suffering and keep the pressure on them," Morrissey said,

To that point, a spokesperson for Southside Electric confirmed late Friday that Dominion will be assisting its crews, and the co-op will have 783 people in the field by the end of Friday.

We requested an interview with someone from the co-op but they sent a press release instead.

In the release, President and CEO Jeffrey Edwards said that 80% of their infrastructure was destroyed all at once, and many mutual aid crews were pulled away due to ongoing weather events in Texas and Oklahoma.

We reached out to Congressman Donald McEachin, and Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, to see if they are aware of the power outages impacting Southside Electric customers, and if they can help in any way.

All three offices said they are looking into the situation and exploring how they can help.

Senator Mark Warner's office sent us the following statement:

“I have been monitoring the situation after the region was hit by a second winter storm leaving thousands of Virginians without power. Our office has been in communication with the Southside Electric Cooperative to get more information on the widespread outage in the region and what they are doing to get power restored quickly. While they work on urgently recuperating service in the region, please check on your friends and neighbors to make sure they are safe. In the meantime, my office is standing by and ready to offer any federal assistance that may be needed during this time.”



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