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Substations, transmission lines remain source of major outages

Hundreds of electric cooperative lineworkers poured into South Carolina today and began making their way to nine electric cooperative service territories along the coast and inland as far as Marlboro County. Crews from Upstate South Carolina electric cooperatives also moved toward the coast, as blue-sky weather made damage assessments and some outage repairs possible.

In what electric cooperative officials say will be multiple days of power restoration work, the magnitude of the damage became clear. A noteworthy 65 substations are powerless in eight electric cooperative service territories tonight as repair crews approach the end of daylight work hours.


The independent, member-owned electric cooperatives get much of their electricity from Santee Cooper, the state-owned electric utility. Santee Cooper operates the transmission system, which delivers high-voltage power to substations.


“The substations are a critical link between power plants and distribution service to consumers,” said Rob Ardis, an electrical engineer and CEO of Santee Electric Cooperative, which serves large parts of Williamsburg, Georgetown, Clarendon and Florence counties.


“Substations ‘step down’ the high voltage power, which can be as much as 115 kilovolts, to approximately 12 or 25 kilovolts and send it on its way over transmission lines to distribution lines and to neighborhoods and businesses. That’s how you eventually get the 120-volt electricity in your electrical outlet,” Ardis said.


At 6 p.m. Sunday, more than 232,000 electric cooperative consumers were without power. That’s down from a peak of 300,000 on Saturday evening.


“We’re working very hard in the outage areas where we have power available to deliver to homes and businesses,” said Ardis. “In every new damaged area we enter, it’s really clear this one was big. Good riddance, Hurricane Matthew.”



Real-time outage information—by county or by electric cooperative—is available at www.ecsc.org.


Electric cooperatives build and maintain the state’s largest power-distribution system. More than 74,000 miles of co-op power lines cover 70 percent of the state — more than all the other utilities in S.C. combined.


Contact: Lou Green

Oct. 9, 2016, 6:30 p.m.​803-331-4598​lou.green@ecsc.org

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