Rep. Stephens visits Buckeye REC headquarters

Published 1:26 am Sunday, December 26, 2021

RIO GRANDE — The Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative welcomed State Rep. Jason Stephens (R-93, Kitts Hill) to their Rio Grande headquarters to share their appreciation and plan for the over $9 million in funding they received from an Ohio EMA grant.

The grant will enable the co-op to recoup a portion of the damages caused by the area’s historic ice storm in February.

Gov. DeWine declared a state of emergency, first in Lawrence, then Gallia County, due to the storms. The administration provided state resources, including the Ohio National Guard and Ohio Department of Highways, to assist in the restoration effort by clearing roads and debris.

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Roughly 7,700 members were left without power and water for several days. The storms resulted in over 150 broken poles and crossarms and over 640-miles of downed and tangled power lines, resulting in millions of dollars’ worth of damage for Buckeye REC.

This grant money will help the co-op support an underserved area of Ohio and will improve not only the efficiency, but also the quality of service to their surrounding areas,” said Stephens. “Gov. DeWine came to Lawrence County to see first-hand the issues we were facing, and we all appreciate the administration’s quick action to help our communities.”

The co-op serves nine counties in southern Ohio and operates as a member-owned, not-for-profit organization. They currently serve nearly 19,000 consumers, and cover over 2,600 miles of primary and secondary lines. Roughly $3 million of the grant money coming to Buckeye REC is allocated for ice storm restoration costs, and the remaining $6 million will be used for rebuilding, strengthening and restoring the heavily damaged systems.

“The grant funding we are receiving will not only go towards improving our capacity and reliability, but will also allow us to work on our potential growth moving forward,” said Kent Eldridge, vice president of the co-op’s Member Services. “Our impact is much larger than the nine counties that we serve, and we are so grateful for the support and leadership shown from the state throughout tough times.”