Formal inquiry into SEC requested

Published 6:00 am Friday, March 12, 2021

The Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday night, March 9, to adopt a resolution requesting that the State Corporation Commission of the commonwealth of Virginia conduct a formal inquiry into the Southside Electric Cooperative’s (SEC) preparation for and response to the Feb. 12-13 ice storm and subsequent power loss of Feb. 13.

With its vote, the board also agreed to direct County Administrator Doug Stanley to send a copy of the resolution to the county’s General Assembly delegation and to the surrounding counties that have SEC as an electric service provider.

Doug Stanley

During Tuesday’s meeting, Stanley acknowledged the news had come out a couple days prior that the State Corporation Commission is going to do an inquiry.

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“Obviously we drafted this (resolution) two weeks ago, but I still don’t think it’d hurt to go ahead and make the formal request,” he said.

The resolution notes that Prince Edward County and the majority of southside Virginia were hit hard by the Feb. 12-13 ice storm, and the subsequent damage to trees and infrastructure knocked out electric service to a majority of Prince Edward’s 11,373 electric service customers.

All of SEC’s 3,827 customers in the county lost power during the storm event, and power was not fully restored until Feb. 27, leaving some residents without power for a total of 14 days, the resolution states. The loss of power put an undue hardship on the citizens impacted, leaving them to deal with cold temperatures, costly fuel bills to run their generators and loss of food through spoilage.

The resolution expresses the county’s appreciation for the efforts of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, Dominion Energy and SEC employees, partner agencies and contractors who spent many hours in the field in low temperatures to restore power to Prince Edward citizens.

But the resolution adds that the fact remains that a significant number of Prince Edward citizens were without power during cold winter weather for up to 11 days.

Throughout its service area, SEC reported thousands of outages, approximately 625 broken poles, hundreds of broken crossarms and hundreds of locations with wire down, many blocking roads and accesses for residents, the resolution states.

It then notes that SEC struggled with the scale and magnitude of the event in the restoration of power to county citizens and businesses and failed to restore power in a timely manner, prompting the board’s call for a formal inquiry.