When Matt Sawhill, incoming Statesboro area manager for Georgia Power, said Tuesday he would expect “a hundred percent” restoration of power to customers in Bulloch County by Friday, he was colloquially expressing confidence, not promising 100 percent.
“Our hope is to be at or close to 100 percent by Friday night for those that can receive power, but there are no guarantees because every situation is different,” Sawhill stated in a clarifying email Tuesday night. “That said, our crews are working hard to safely restore power as quickly as possible. We just ask for patience as we cope with one of the strongest and largest storms our state has seen in decades.”
As reported in the story on Hurricane Irma recovery in Wednesday’s edition, Sawhill also expressed a note of caution by observing that the last outages to be restored are often the most difficult.
After 16,000 to 17,000 Georgia Power customers in Bulloch County lost electrical service during the height of the storm Monday, line crews had reduced the number of outages so that fewer than 300 Bulloch customers were offline by Tuesday afternoon.
By 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, that number had been reduced further, to roughly 200 local customers, Sawhill reported.
However, as Bulloch County Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn also observed Tuesday, the number of outages may fluctuate because power crews sometimes have to disconnect lines temporarily while restoring others. Sawhill agreed.
Selected to be Georgia Power’s area manager, Sawhill is not yet officially on the job, but traveled to Statesboro last week and took part in the storm preparations, meeting with local officials in Bulloch County’s Emergency Operations Center. He comes to Georgia Power from the natural gas side of its parent corporation, Southern Company, where he was managing director of governmental policy with Southern Company Gas in Atlanta.
Bringing a newcomer’s perspective, Sawhill said he found the efforts of Georgia Power linemen, other crew members and staff “nothing short of amazing” during the storm response.
“It’s been really the hard work and dedication from the headquarters office here with our other regional offices,” he said. “They have really done an incredible job.”
In a statewide news release, Georgia Power reported that electricity had been restored to 590,000 of its customers by 5 a.m. Wednesday. At that point approximately 360,000 Georgia Power customers across the state remained without power, down from about 950,000 customer locations at the peak of outages Monday.
By 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the statewide outages had been reduced to approximately 283,000 customers, Sawhill noted.
In Wednesday morning’s news release, posted at www.georgiapower.com, the company stated that it expects to have power restored to 95 percent of customers affected by Hurricane Irma and “who can accept power” by Sunday night.