As 2022 draws to a close, we've conducted our annual tally of the stories that drew the most readers throughout the course of the year, and it's no surprise to see electric cooperatives' crucial power restoration efforts taking the top two spots on the list. Rounding out the top five: coverage of the supply chain crisis—an issue that has been top of mind for co-ops all year—along with a major legislative victory and a salute to lineworkers.
Earlier this month in North Carolina, Randolph Electric Membership Corp. faced nearly 2,800 outages after an attack on two Duke Energy transmission substations. The Asheboro-based co-op quickly built more than two miles of new lines to connect its de-energized lines to available power from other locations, enabling it to restore service on a rolling basis until Duke Energy could complete its repairs.
Hurricane Ian slammed into Southwest Florida as a Category 4 storm in late September with 155 mph winds and historic storm surge. The powerful, destructive storm left millions of Floridians without power, including more than 300,000 co-op members; Fort Myers-based Lee County Electric Cooperative and Wauchula-based Peace River Electric Cooperative were particularly hard-hit. In a massive mutual aid effort, more than 1,300 co-op personnel from other states helped get members reconnected as quickly as possible.
Supply chain shortages have been a major concern for co-ops throughout 2022. In June, President Joe Biden signed orders allowing the Department of Energy to use the Defense Production Act to help manufacturers increase their output of transformers, a move that NRECA called a “much-needed step to support reliability and resilience."
Co-ops marked a huge victory in August when Congress passed a sweeping budget bill that included, for the first time ever, direct-pay tax credits they can use to deploy new energy technologies such as carbon capture, nuclear energy, energy storage, renewables and more. The legislation also created a voluntary $9.7 billion U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and loan program designed specifically for co-ops that buy or build new clean energy systems.
In honor of Lineworker Appreciation Day in April, NRECA asked co-ops to share photos and stories of lineworkers who have gone above and beyond, both on the job and in the community. Co-ops, of course, delivered, and the resulting photo gallery demonstrated that lineworkers do everything from rescuing family pets from trees to coaching youth sports teams in their communities to performing the Heimlich maneuver on their fellow restaurant diners.
Wishing a safe and happy holiday season to cooperative.com and electric.coop readers. We look forward to telling more co-op stories in 2023.