Southeast U.S. Utility

Davey sends 300 additional line technicians to help a Southeast U.S. Utility restore power after Hurricane Irma.

The Challenge

When you’re known for service reliability, like this municipal electric and water utility based in Florida, maintaining more than 2,300 miles of electric lines and 1,700 miles of water lines isn’t easy, especially during storms. In October 2016, after a 10-year hiatus from major storms, Hurricane Matthew blasted toward Florida and was expected to cause destruction. But the storm stayed east, causing only 39,000 customers to lose power and the utility made full restoration in three days.

Then, one year later, a brutal category 3 Hurricane known as Irma barreled through the center of the state, delivering more than eight hours of hurricane-force and tropical-force winds to Central Florida. Nearly eight straight hours of gusts caused unprecedented damage to the utility’s grid. More than 60 percent of the utility’s customers lost power and 115 of 119 overhead circuits were knocked out.

The Solution

Davey crews have kept the utility’s lines clear for 30 years. So naturally when the utility needed help during Hurricane Irma, Davey helped to mobilize a response team nearly three times the size of its normal workforce. Davey sent 300 additional line technicians and tree trimmers from states as far away as Michigan and Massachusetts. Traditionally, 60 professionals work on the utility’s lines. The utility and Davey’s Orlando office helped house and feed them once they arrived to prepare them for the miles of line that needed work.

The utility planned ahead, watching the weather. Davey Resource Group helped with ground assessment of 792 miles of lines. Davey used that data to target crews to quickly trim trees and clear lines. The utility also communicated to Davey crew leaders easily and quickly so if power needed to be cut in one section to ensure safety during trimming, that could be done almost immediately.

Usually during extreme storms like hurricanes, resources like water become depleted in Florida. As a result, Davey told its crews coming in from out of town to each grab a palette of water to put on their trucks before heading south. Davey’s Orlando office stored this water to ensure crews would not run out.

The Results

Despite 7 million Floridians losing power and more than 200 transmission lines suffering extensive damage, the municipal utility restored power four to seven days faster than local investor-owned utilities.

Repairs included the replacement of 117 wood and seven concrete poles, 57 overhead and 16 underground transformers, 13 miles of primary line and 5.43 miles of secondary line.

The utility, with the help of Davey’s in-town and out-of-town crews, showcased its dedication to the communities it serves, reinforcing its reliable reputation.

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