Blackstone residents say SCC review of Southside Electric Cooperative is needed because crews weren’t prepared for ice storms

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BLACKSTONE, Va. (WRIC) — The State Corporation Commission is reviewing each utility company heavily impacted by the mid-February ice storms. Southside Electric Cooperative is among the companies being reviewed.

According to SCC Director of Information Resources Ken Schrad, staff will conduct an overall analysis, review and evaluation of how power outages were handled. The staff will then come up with a recommendation based on what was learned.

Following the first major ice storm in February, thousands of customers of Southside Electric Cooperative were left in the dark for several days.

Schrad said that the SCC’s division of public utilities typically does a report following “following any major storm event that has a wide-spread electricity outage impact.”

A data request was sent to Dominion Energy, Mecklenburg Electric and Southside Electric. Data from that request will be reviewed by the SCC.

Weeks following the ice storm, Blackstone residents like David Wilkins are continuing to take matters into their own hands, cleaning up debris across the town.

“This is my second day this week that I’ve taken off to deal with it. We came out a little bit over the weekend to cut logs up and try to drag stuff, but it’s just a monumental task,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins told 8News although he got power back quickly being under the Town of Blackstone’s power source, he had friends who are Southside Electric members coming over a week and a half after the storm to shower because they had no power.

Wilkins said SCC needs to review Southside Electric’s response to the storm.

“Probably does need to happen with as many people who were out of power as long as they were. Seems kind of strange that was what they do but it took them so long to actually do it,” he said.

Wilkins claims Southside Electric Cooperative crews weren’t prepared for the first round of ice storms the area saw in February but quickly brought out crews for the next round.

“Everybody seemed like they were caught completely off guard, whereas the next round of it there were trucks staged all over the place. It looked like they were ready for parades. I was kind of confused as to why they didn’t have that level of response during the first storm,” Wilkins said.

Blackstone resident and Southside Electric member George Mason said his family went nine days without power and believes the cooperative’s response to the power outages should be reviewed.

“The review is needed. The fact that we went this long without power is unspeakable,” he told 8News Tuesday.

8News reached out to Southside Electric Cooperative for an interview and CEO Jeff Edwards responded with this statement:

With outages of this size, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) will routinely review a utility’s preparation and response to a major storm event. SCC will review SEC’s restoration procedures and preparedness under this standard practice. SEC has received that request and we look forward to sharing the information with them regarding pre-storm, during storm and post-storm activities.”

CEO of Southside Electric Cooperative Jeff Edwards

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