Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CHELCO) experienced more than 250 outages affecting 16,400 members following a string of severe thunderstorms that swept through its service territory beginning the morning of Friday, June 16, into the evening of Saturday, June 17.
Lightning, downed trees, debris and high winds battered the CHELCO system serving Walton, Okaloosa, Holmes and Santa Rosa counties.
The cooperative owns and maintains over 4,300 miles of line including those on Eglin Air Force Base (Eglin AFB). The “Native” system, used to refer to the service area outside of Eglin AFB, had 243 outages affecting 15,300 members, and 13 additional outages affected 1,199 points of demarcation (PODs) on base.
Outages began at 9:05 a.m. on Friday and crews worked to restore them throughout the night until relief arrived at 10:00 p.m. Working 24/7, the last outage was restored prior to midnight on Saturday, June 17.
The efforts of CHELCO employees extended beyond the valued line technicians working diligently to restore power.
“When faced with widespread outages of this magnitude, the cooperative spirit quickly becomes evident,” said CHELCO CEO Steve Rhodes. “We had staff deployed to the field to help find the cause of outages and assess the damage, a team dedicated to food distribution for employees and additional employees on hand in our energy control center, warehouse and member call center.”
Local restaurants, The Depot, 4C BBQ and David Costa Enterprises – McDonald’s assisted in providing food to employees.
Prioritizing safety, CHELCO aims to restore power to those affected by outages as quickly as safely possible.
The Atlantic Hurricane season lasts from June to November, reaching peak storm season in August. Tornadoes, flooding and severe thunderstorms are also common during the summer months. CHELCO has several ways members can report power outages and an interactive map to track outage restoration. Call (800) 342-0990 to report power outages or download the “MyCHELCO” App in the App Store or Google Play. To receive outage information for your account, text “MyCHELCO” to (800) 342-0990. For an interactive map with details about outages, approximate restoration times and areas affected, visit http://outageview.chelco.com:8080/.
CHELCO is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative serving more than 62,000 accounts in Walton, Okaloosa, Holmes and Santa Rosa counties.