Electric companies around the state geared up for the worst, expecting thousands of residents to lose power due to the icy weather, but the number of outages in Aiken County were surprisingly low.Aiken Electric Cooperative reported fewer than 35 outages in Aiken and Edgefield counties and around 1,000 outages in the Swansea and Perry areas. South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G) had a little more than 1,000 customers lose power in Aiken and surrounding counties combined.Compared to the 39,000 SCE&G customers and 13,000 Co-op members affected in the 2004 ice storm, the number of outages in this weather event, which was not as severe, was significantly lower.Along with many power lines not burdened with much ice accumulation, both companies suggest that their tree trimming practices prevented a lot of power outages from occurring.Marilyn Gerrity, manager of the Co-op's Marketing & Strategic Services, said that after the ice storm in 2004, the company tightened its right-of-way or tree trimming practices."We used to just top the trees, but now we remove the limbs that could impact the power lines during a storm," Gerrity said.SCE&G Public Affairs Manager Eric Boomhower said that though several limbs did knock out the power to some homes, the problem would have been more prevalent if not for the company's tree trimming practices."Tree trimming is really critical to the safety and reliability of an electric system," said Boomhower, adding that the recent ice storm was evidence that the line clearance is beneficial.Boomhower said SCE&G has evolved its tree trimming practices over the years, making the planning and execution of cutting limbs around power lines more centralized rather than managed by each independent district in which it operates. Both companies said that most of their customers who experienced a power outage had their electricity quickly restored. SCE&G experienced around 4,000 outages statewide yesterday and, by 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, power was restored to all but about 400 homes, according to the company's website. Gerrity said that as of Tuesday morning, the Co-op had no reports of power outages.Both companies said Tuesday that their crews were still on stand-by for any other issues that may occur due to the aftermath of the winter storm.Contact Amy Banton at email@example.com.
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