Accepting FMEA’S Restoring Communities Award are, from left, Clint Bullock, General Manager & CEO; Cesar Calvet, Immediate Past President; Britta Gross, Board President; and LeMoyne Adams, Vice President, Electric & Water Distribution.

OUC – The Reliable One, was honored on Jan. 11, 2021, with Florida Municipal Electric Association’s (FMEA) annual Restoring Communities Award in recognition of mutual aid provided to areas damaged by severe weather events in 2020.

OUC line crews helped restore power to communities damaged by hurricanes in 2020.

During the 2020 hurricane season, OUC sent line crews to help utilities in Gulf Coast states restore electric services in the aftermaths of devastating storms. OUC responded to requests for support from mutual aid member utilities in Alexandria and Winnfield, La. (Hurricane Laura), Fairhope, Ala. (Hurricane Sally), and Lafayette, La. (Hurricane Delta). OUC also sent a team to aid an investor-owned utility in Gulfport, Miss. (Hurricane Zeta) under a separate mutual aid agreement. The deployments, which stretched from Aug. 27-Nov. 4, were carried out with lineworkers observing safety protocols to protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus.

Public power utilities can call on each other for emergency workers and supplies through mutual aid agreements coordinated through FMEA. Mutual aid agreements also are in place with electric cooperatives and Florida’s investor-owned utilities in order to draw upon additional resources.

“This award truly compliments the dedication of our lineworkers,” said Clint Bullock, General Manager & CEO of OUC. “They feel a sense of duty to help restore power to communities impacted by storm damage. While OUC was fortunate to escape the 2020 hurricane season unscathed we were prepared for it, and that preparation showed in our response to calls for assistance.”

Twelve other Florida public utilities were recognized by FMEA as award recipients: Beaches Energy Services, City of Homestead, City of Tallahassee, Fort Pierce Utilities Authority, Gainesville Regional Utilities, JEA (Jacksonville), Keys Energy Services, Kissimmee Utility Authority, Lakeland Electric, Ocala Electric Utility, Town of Havana, and Utilities Commission of New Smyrna Beach. During 2020, Florida public power utilities provided mutual aid assistance to communities in and out of state following hurricanes, tornadoes, storms and other emergency situations

“The utilities . . . went above and beyond to help public power communities in need, and to make matters more challenging, did so during a pandemic,” said Allen Putnam, FMEA President and Utilities Director of Beaches Energy Services. “While we’re happy to put 2020 behind us, we will not forget our members’ level of service and commitment to powering our communities.  Whether utilities are responding to their neighboring community or venturing into other states, mutual aid has and will continue to uplift public power everywhere.”

The Restoring Communities Award is sponsored by Burns and McDonnell, a full-service engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting solutions firm.