Cooperative Review - April 2018
Vol68-4 April 2018

Extreme wind causes severe and widespread damage throughout SOMD

On Monday, March 5, SMECO completed restoring service to customers directly affected by Winter Storm Riley, a nor’easter that brought damaging winds to the mid-Atlantic states and New England.

“The wind storm that hit our area beginning Friday morning caused more damage to SMECO’s electric system than any hurricane or winter storm we’ve experienced in the past six years,” said Austin J. Slater, Jr., president and CEO of SMECO. “The damage to SMECO’s system was severe and widespread, affecting customers across the entire service area. In total, we experienced 114,000 customer interruptions. We’ve not had this much damage to our system since the derecho that hit in the summer of 2012.”

Chart showing outage spike.

On Friday, March 2, at about 3:30 p.m., SMECO had more than 32,000 customers without power. By Saturday morning, that number was reduced to 14,800 after all feeder lines had been restored. The sustained high winds knocked down trees and power lines across Southern Maryland. The number of outage incidents was at 1,300 Saturday morning. An incident is a damage event which can range from a blown transformer to a tree on a line or a broken pole, affecting a single or multiple customers.

Broken tree into power line.

SMECO had 114 line workers and more than 90 contractor personnel deployed throughout the weekend. “Field personnel began restoration efforts early Friday morning. Although we had no snow or rain, and the temperature was mild, crews were being battered by the relentless wind gusts,” explained Slater. “The high winds caused trees to continue to fall and damage power lines for three days.” Approximately 20 poles and 10 transformers were replaced as a result of the storm.

lineman climbing pole

“Our crews in the field and our office personnel worked safely for hours on end through this crisis,” Slater added. “And our customer-members have shown a great amount of patience, resilience, and thoughtfulness throughout the aftermath of the storm.”

Tree cutting from bucket Crew working on cross arm


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