SCE&G president talks outages, lessons learned

News 12 at First at Five / Monday, Feb. 17, 2014

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) -- For Midway Grill owner Bill Hamilton, pound after pound of food will have to be tossed.

"Financially, it's been terrible," he says. "I've probably lost everything I got in my business."

After days of waiting, contractors for SCE&G finally pulled up to fix a line near his Gloverville restaurant.

"I was about to call Channel 12 News On Your Side. I'd barely gotten it out of my mouth when I see the trucks roll up," says Hamilton.

Hamilton isn't alone. Thousands of people in Aiken County are still in the dark.

"Where we stand right now is we have a lineman for just about every six customers that are out in Aiken County," says SCE&G President of Retail Operations Keller Kissam.

"The SCE&G website says by 11 o'clock tonight, 90 to 95% should have power again. Do you stand by that number?" asks News 12 reporter Chad Mills.

"I just came from the crew quarters," says Kissam. "I talked to some of the lineman. I talked to our operarting personnel here in the Aiken community. We feel very confident that that's going to be the case and that we'll meet those estimated times of restoration."

On Monday, News 12 asked Kissam what's taking so long in Aiken County, since work is pretty much done in surrounding counties.

"Because of the maturity of our neighborhoods here in Aiken and North Augusta," he answers. "They are established neighborhoods with large populations of hardwood trees that grow in close proximity to the homes, and therefore, in close proximity to our power lines."

Kissam says his linemen have been working around the clock, but, if there's a next time, the president says there's room for improvement.

"I had one lady tell me, 'Well, you should have come in and cut the trees in my yard.' We would have only limbed them up. We are on a five-year trim cycle, so we'll look at that five-year trim cycle and say is that sufficient," he says.

As of 5:30 PM, the Aiken Electric Cooperate reports 2,600 outages, with the majority being in Aiken County. SCE&G reports 2,907 outages in Aiken County.

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