OUC hastened power restoration after Hurricane Ian with the help of mutual aid crews.

OUC’s all-out recovery effort in the wake of Hurricane Ian and its mutual aid deployments in early 2022 earned the Florida Municipal Electric Association’s Restoring Communities Award for 2022.

The award recognizes Florida public power utilities for either providing or receiving mutual aid following significant weather events or emergencies or providing exemplary service to their community following emergency situations. OUC has won the award every year since 2016.

With Ian projected to impact Central Florida after entering Southwest Florida as a major hurricane in late September, OUC called on in- and out-of-state mutual aid partners to send available crews to help with anticipated power restoration and tree trimming work. All told, 162 line techs and 49 tree trimmers traveled to Orlando to help hasten OUC’s storm recovery.

Ian made landfall near Fort Myers as a Category 4 storm and cut across the peninsula south of Central Florida, impacting OUC’s service territory with 70 mph winds and unprecedented flooding on Sept. 29. Of the 97,560 OUC customers who initially lost power, 70,301 had their lights back on within 24 hours after the storm had passed. By Oct. 3, all customers who could receive power had their service restored.

OUC did not call on mutual aid support when Hurricane Nicole struck Florida’s East Coast on Nov. 10. After making landfall near Vero Beach as a Category 1 storm, Nicole delivered only a glancing blow to OUC’s service territory, leaving just over 28,000 customers without power. OUC crews restored power to all but a few customers by the following day.

In January 2022, OUC responded to two mutual aid calls within a week of each other, dispatching crews as winter storms threatened to cause power outages in High Point, N.C., and Conway, S.C.