1,277 Laurens Electric Cooperative members without power

Crews will work around the clock; 100 additional lineworkers assisting

Employees of Laurens Electric Cooperative have responded to thousands of reports of power outages in the aftermath of today’s winter storm, most in Laurens County. High winds, falling trees, and snow and ice, are responsible for most of the damage.

The storm is currently affecting 1,986 Laurens Electric members. The following is a breakdown of the number of LEC outages by county:

  • Laurens – 1,902
  • Greenville – 2
  • Newberry – 84

LEC crews have been working throughout the day, assisted by 100 additional personnel, from contract and right-of-way crews to linemen from cooperatives in Alabama and Louisiana.

At this time the co-op is still assessing the extent of damage and cannot yet predict power restoration times.

Crews will not stop working until power has been restored to all members.

Due to the freezing temperatures expected tonight, cooperative officials are urging members whose power has not yet been restored to begin making alternative plans for the evening. They stress that this is especially important for members who are high risk, such as the very young and elderly, as well as those with medical problems.

To report a power outage or damaged equipment, call 1-800-942-3141.

Co-op members are encouraged to visit the co-op’s web site, laurenselectric.com, for outage information and to follow LEC on Facebook and Twitter for updates.


Power lines that are subjected to high winds after icing exhibit a physical reaction known as galloping. A wave motion sets up in a power line and it begins to whip. This violent wave or whipping motion will literally break cross-arms, split poles, fatigue the lines beyond their breaking point and shatter porcelain insulators. Tree limbs that broke and came down on the lines also caused problems in some areas.

After a winter storm, there is often severe damage to conductors. When ice or snow melts and falls off the line, the wire is instantly unloaded, which causes the wire to jump back to its original sag after the bouncing stops. The wires usually slap together causing numerous burn-downs.

Laurens Electric Cooperative would like to thank its members for their patience, consideration and assistance during this storm.

Laurens Electric Cooperative serves 61,000 member-owners in Laurens, Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, Newberry, Union, and Abbeville counties. Since 1939, the co-op has been dedicated to being the provider of choice for energy and related services in the Upstate.

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How we restore service after major outages

The goal is to get the power back on ASAP for the greatest number of members.

Widespread damage from a severe storm may make it impossible to accurately predict when power will be restored – especially in the early phases, while the extent of damage is being assessed.

What crews encounter when they arrive at the actual restoration sites is always different. For example, a distribution line serving a local area may have multiple damage locations, all of which must be found and repaired.

On-going and dangerous weather conditions, uneven or difficult terrain, the need for various repair supplies, and a number of other factors make it difficult to predict power restoration times. And requiring minute-by-minute updates and estimates would divert crews in the field from their primary focus – restoring power to members.

The main goal is to safely restore power to the greatest number of customers in the shortest time possible.

Keep in mind that if there is damage to power plants, switchyards or transmission lines, those facilities must be repaired by our power supplier before we can restore your service. Transmission lines seldom fail, but they can be damaged by ice storms. Tens of thousands of people could be served by a single high-voltage transmission line.

When those facilities are working, any problems in the co-op’s electric distribution system can be corrected. Three primary areas of our system must be addressed.

1 — Substations are repaired first. Distribution substations each serve thousands of members. When a major outage occurs, the local distribution substations are checked first. If the problem can be corrected at the substation level, power may be restored to a large number of people.

2 — Distribution lines are repaired. Main distribution supply lines are checked next if the problem cannot be isolated at the substation. These supply lines carry electricity away from the substation to a group of members, such as a subdivision. When power is restored at this stage, all members served by this supply line could see the lights come on, if there is no problem farther down the line. 

3 — Individual services are restored. The final supply lines, called service lines, carry power from the transformer on utility poles or underground transformers outside houses or other buildings. Line crews fix the remaining outages based on restoring service to the greatest number of members.

Sometimes, damage will occur on the service line between your house and the transformer on the nearby pole. This may explain why you have no power when your neighbor does. The co-op needs to know you have an outage here, so a service crew can repair it.

If there is damage to the equipment where the service drop enters your home, you may need to get an electrician to repair it before the co-op can safely restore your service. The weatherhead, where service lines enter the conduit leading to your home’s electric meter, is the responsibility of the homeowner. So are the conduit and the meter base. The co-op can replace or repair damaged meters or service lines, but if you see damage to your home’s weatherhead, conduit or meter base, contact an electrician immediately to get repairs started.

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