Little Rock, AR -- Nobody knows the ins and outs of restoring power systems better than the members of Bicentennial Volunteers Inc. (BVI). Members of BVI are former Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) electrical engineers and technicians who have made a second career by acting as consultants to their former employers. For the past two months, they have been putting their skills to work, helping restore electrical service to hundreds of customers who lost power during the devastating ice storms that swept the state during the month of December, crippling electrical delivery and leaving some areas wondering when they would receive service again.
Acting as technical contractors for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the men and women from BVI have been working with the electric co-ops to estimate what it will take to restore distribution lines and replace or repair poles and equipment. They are also exploring cost-effective steps the co-ops can take to minimize the damages caused by future storms.
Twelve of the 18 Arkansas electric co-ops sustained damage in the December ice storms, ranging from $100,000 to $12 million each. Total damages have been estimated at $35 million. Though electricity has been restored to all residences in the state, it will probably take up to six months to complete repairs to the infrastructure and restore service to remote agricultural sites.