GEORGIA’S ELECTRIC MEMBERSHIP COOPERATIVES (EMCs) historically come together each year to create an exhibit at Sunbelt to offer
Expo attendees information on current energy issues, electric safety
and renewable resources, but last year was different. “Power restoration after Hurricane Michael was the top priority for all of Georgia’s
electric cooperatives,” said Georgia EMC Senior Public Relations Coordinator Gale Cutler.
The EMCs have been involved with the Sunbelt Ag Expo since the
early years of Dealer Days and the Farm Power & Recreation Show
held on the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) campus
in the 1960s.
“While we couldn’t staff our full exhibit last year because all co-op
employees were dedicated to restoring service and repairing damage
caused by Hurricane Michael, we were able to participate at the Expo
by bringing in the Touchstone Energy hot air balloon and through our
sponsorship of the Media Center. We hated to make the last-minute
call to close our 2018 exhibit for the first time in decades, and we’re
glad to be back in full force this year,” Cutler said.
Also back is Oscar the Robot who interacts with attendees and
shares messages of electric safety. The life-size robot walks and talks
and has become an unofficial mascot at Sunbelt and a familiar sight
to the public.
This year’s EMCs of Georgia exhibit will feature a display about
Hurricane Michael restoration efforts and information on how power
is restored after storms. Hurricane Michael, which became a Category
3 hurricane when it entered Georgia last fall, proved to be the most
violent storm the state has experienced in decades. For some EMCs,
Michael was the largest and most destructive outage event in history.
The hurricane destroyed or damaged up to 53 high-voltage transmission lines, 99 substations, 3,000+ power poles and other equipment. Forty-one EMCs from across Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee,
Kentucky, Alabama and Arkansas all helped in this large endeavor
of restoring power to all of Mitchell EMC’s service area and beyond.
Tony Tucker, President and CEO of Mitchell EMC, said, “If we took
our staff and did the amount of work that was completed in those 16
days, it would take us 11 months to complete it. That would be the
inside and outside staff working every day for 11 months to equal the
hours spent restoring power in 16 days.”
RETURNING FAVORI TES
Electric safety has always been the primary focus of EMC education
since those early Dealer Days at ABAC, as agricultural accidents pose
a serious danger across the country. To explain, the EMCs will present
four high voltage demonstrations each day at 9: 30 a.m., 11: 30 a.m.,
1: 30 p.m. and 3: 30 p.m. so that attendees can witness first-hand the
consequences of coming into contact with power lines.
Be sure to watch overhead each morning at 9 a.m. and again at 4
p.m. for the Touchstone Energy hot air balloon which is scheduled to
fly over the Expo grounds.
And for fun activities, the EMCs welcome Expo-goers to become
electric line workers. A new photo op area will be part of the mix this
year. Attendees can suit-up with line worker equipment and step into
a mock bucket truck (safely resting on the ground) to take a photo.
Guests are also welcomed to climb a miniature electric pole, with
supervision, to see what it takes to get the lights back on. Each new line
worker will be given a child’s plastic lineman helmet while supplies last.
REFRESH AND RELAX
The exhibit also features complimentary bottled water for weary
attendees. Bags of popcorn, shaded seating and a place to relax on the
Expo grounds has become a much appreciated amenity for the public.
EMC exhibit returns to Sunbelt Ag Expo