Article Courtesy of Andrew Rush, District Manager – Mississippi

The welcome signs leading into the state of Mississippi read, “The Birthplace of America’s Music”. However, you could also call Mississippi the birthplace of America’s electrification. Tupelo, Mississippi was the first city in America to receive power via the newly formed Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Alcorn County EPA in Corinth, MS was the first electric cooperative formed in the nation. Currently, there are approximately 1.5 million electric customers in MS served by 25 Cooperatives, 23 Municipal Utilities, and two Investor-Owned Utilities. These groups have a mutual aid agreement that activates when extreme weather conditions cause widespread power outages. The past two years brought three hurricanes, two tropical storms, an ice storm, and multiple tornadoes. The mutual aid agreements allow the affected utilities to call on their neighboring utilities to aid in the restoration process. It’s a well-planned and well-managed system of shared resources. When each utility restores power to their own customer, they head directly to their neighboring electric systems. The spirit of line workers is obvious – fully attentive and prepared. The first thing you hear when they arrive is, “what do you need?”.

Gresco, a cooperative, serves the needs of Mississippi utilities with electric and communication products and technical support. Gresco also has a mutual aid process. Gresco can pull personnel, equipment, and other resources from their other districts in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Florida. Needed equipment and support staff are dispatched to the affected area and immediately start to work to get the needed materials to the storm-affected area. When these people show up, the same words can be heard, “What do you need?”. Gresco also partners with manufacturers of utility products who always step up to ensure a steady supply of critical equipment. The manufacturers we work with provide after-hours support and expedited shipping. The entire supply chain was strained this year due to many factors including lack of raw materials, Covid restrictions, and shipping delays. However, Gresco was able to provide support and get the materials needed to keep the restoration process moving steadily along.

Mississippi’s rich history of bringing power to its people is still going strong. I am proud to be a part of this team. Shared resources and teamwork are the keys to success on all fronts.