February 18, 2009 Edition

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Restoration of power
nearing completion

Vivian Heyl
Staff Writer

Craighead Electric spokesman Monty Williams said Tuesday that the cooperative is entering the homestretch on restoring power to its customers.

Approximately 1,000 members of the co-op across three counties were still without power on Tuesday morning.

CEO Brian Duncan said he was optimistic that the job will be complete by Saturday.

"We have 850 line workers in the field," Duncan said. "The work these men and our support staff have accomplished over the past weeks is amazing."

Craighead Electric will restore electricity to residential and business accounts before beginning work on restoring power to farming operation needs such as irrigation pumps, grain storage and yard lights.

Williams said there is no estimate as to the cost of this restoration.

"We still have the inspection and cleanup phase to complete, so actual cost won't be known until we are completely through. The storm cost will total in the millions of dollars," he said.

Entergy's David Burnette said that Entergy's costs will be in the millions as well. Entergy customers in Lawrence County should have power restored to their homes and businesses now.

"We have made a good faith effort to see that everyone that could receive power got power," he said. "If a residential or business customer has not been reconnected, they should call 800-9outage."

Burnette said that the work in Lawrence County is not complete. There is still cleanup to be done and power to be restored to farming operations for irrigation and grain storage and for other needs.

Craighead Electric is a non-profit cooperative and as such qualifies for FEMA reimbursements of 75 percent of allowable costs. Entergy is a corporation and is not eligible for FEMA reimbursements. "Entergy's costs will have to be absorbed by our stockholders," Burnette said.

Both Entergy and Craighead Electric Cooperative are responsible for paying the outside crews who are working to restore power to their customers.

As public utilities both Entergy and Craighead Electric are subject to the regulations of the Public Service Commission and must go before them before any rate adjustments can be made.

Burnette said that Entergy may seek a hearing with the Public Service Commission in regard to the current disaster.

"All the costs are still being figured," he said. "We won't know the final cost for some time. The bills are still coming in."

Williams said, "Since the beginning of the cooperative in 1938 we have endured many different natural disasters, i.e. tornadoes, and ice storms. We have never collected directly from our members because of an individual storm, but we have never encountered a storm of this magnitude that virtually impacted our entire system. We will monitor the financial condition of the cooperative and then act accordingly."

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