PRECO Shares Damage Assessment Information

Thursday, September 29, 2022 

Wauchula, Fla. – Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction across Peace River Electric Cooperative’s territory, dragging electric outages in its wake. Damage assessments began this morning and are ongoing. Initial reports indicate that massive damage has occurred to our electric distribution system. Restoration crews are mobilizing to make repairs.

Areas with the most damage are littered with broken poles, downed lines and massive amounts of debris. Many roads are impassable due to fallen trees and rising flood waters.

“This is going to be a long, tough road to recovery for our co-op and the community,” explains CEO Randy Shaw. “Due to the extreme damage to our system, we encourage consumer-members to prepare for outages lasting multiple days.”

Hundreds of lineworkers from electric cooperatives in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Georgia will assist with our restoration efforts.

“Please do not approach line crews as they work,” adds Shaw. “Any distraction could prove dangerous to them and you.”

Many poles and power lines will be on the ground until repairs are complete. PRECO reminds everyone to stay away from downed power lines. Downed lines may be energized and can cause extreme injury or death.

PRECO will follow the steps below in restoring power:

Step 1: Transmission Lines. These supply power to one or more substations.
Step 2: Substations. A substation serves thousands of homes and businesses.
Step 3: Main Distribution Lines. Each line serves a portion of members from each substation.
Step 4: Tap Lines. These serve smaller groups of members from the main distribution lines.
Step 5: Individual Services. These lines serve individual homes and buildings.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we strive to restore power to our community. For updates, find us on Facebook and Twitter or visit

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Peace River Electric Cooperative Takes a Direct Hit from Ian

Peace River Electric Cooperative (PRECO) took a direct hit from Hurricane Ian late Wednesday, resulting in extensive damage to the electric system and leaving thousands of the co-op’s consumer-members without power.

As of Thursday morning, 88% of PRECO consumers are without power due to fallen wires, damaged poles, and severe flooding.

“Much of what took us 82 years to build took Ian less than 24 hours to destroy,” said Van Crawford, PRECO v.p. of operations. “With catastrophic winds and significant flooding, Hurricane Ian is one of the worst storms to hit this area of Florida. The recovery and rebuilding effort will be a lengthy and complicated process.

“PRECO is currently conducting damage assessments, a key first step to developing a roadmap to get the lights back on as quickly as possible. I thank our consumer-members for their notes of support and ask for their continued prayers and patience in the coming days.”

The damage assessment process allows PRECO to strategically target power restoration efforts. Restoration crews are mobilizing now. Once preliminary damage assessments are completed and it is safe to dispatch work crews, PRECO will work tirelessly to restore power as quickly as possible.

More than 500 out-of-state lineworkers and contractors will join PRECO’s power restoration effort. Additional workers will be called in if necessary.

PRECO urges consumer-members to stay safe in the wake of the storm, as conditions remain hazardous in many areas. Consumers are encouraged to follow the following safety tips:

  • Stay away from downed wires. Always assume they are energized.
  • Avoid flooded areas. Long-term flooding along rivers and streams can persist for days following a storm. When approaching water on a roadway, remember: Don’t Drown. Turn Around.
  • Avoid crews working in the street. This will keep you and the crews safe and allow them to work on restoring your power.
  • If you plan to use a portable generator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use only when necessary.
  • To avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, place portable generators outside in a well-ventilated area, more than 20 feet away from your home, doors and windows. Never run a generator inside, not even in your garage. Do not connect the generator directly into your home’s main fuse box, wiring or circuit panel.
  • Protect food and refrigerated medicine with ice in an insulated cooler. Foods will stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer if the door remains closed, and a half-full freezer will generally keep frozen foods for up to 24 hours. Check to learn more about when to throw out or keep food after a power outage.
  • Tune in to local news broadcasts for the latest weather and emergency information.



Peace River Electric Cooperative Closely Monitoring Hurricane Ian

Tuesday, September 27, 2022 

Wauchula, Fla. – Peace River Electric Cooperative is closely monitoring Hurricane Ian. As the storm threatens to intensify before making landfall, PRECO is finishing up storm preparations and staging crews and equipment.

Ian is expected to crawl across PRECO’s service territory throughout Wednesday and most of Thursday. Beginning tonight, we may experience tropical storm-force winds for up to 48 hours.

A storm of this magnitude is expected to cause extensive damage, so your power may be out for multiple days,” says PRECO CEO Randy Shaw. “Please prepare accordingly.”

After Ian has passed, PRECO will begin making damage assessments and power restorations as soon as it is safe to do so.

“Power restoration crews from Arkansas electric cooperatives are already arriving at PRECO’s Wauchula-based Operations Center,” adds Shaw. “By riding out the storm here, they can assist PRECO crews to restore power more quickly.”

PRECO has a proven emergency response plan designed to guide storm preparation and restoration efforts. The cooperative’s employees are trained to prepare for and respond to hurricane events.

For updates after the storm, follow us on Facebook and Twitter or visit


Teachers, Apply for $500 Classroom Grant!

Last year’s inaugural Teacher Mini-Grant program was a huge success! A total of $10,000 was shared among 25 classrooms in schools located in and around Peace River Electric Cooperative’s 10-county service area.

The mini-grant program is made possible through PRECO’s Operation Round Up charitable foundation. Once again, $10,000 will go to the best and brightest classroom projects.

Teachers, we invite you to submit an online Teacher Mini-Grant application for a specific learning project. Your classroom could receive up to $500!


  • School must be physically located in a zip code PRECO serves. See the online application for zip codes list.
  • Grants may be used for materials and expenses related to class projects, special events, field trips and more.
  • Requests for personal electronic devices, educator trainings or conferences are not eligible.
  • Teachers may submit one application per school year.
  • Teacher Mini-Grant applications will be accepted from August 1 to October 1.

Teacher Mini-Grants are intended to provide funding for innovative education projects that fall outside of normal school funding. We want to help teachers provide creative learning experiences for their students.

Submit an online application today


Power Outage? Text Us!

Computer graphic of a broken utility poleReporting and monitoring power outages couldn’t be easier: just text. Peace River Electric Cooperative’s outage texting service is simple, fast and convenient.

Here’s how it works. A simple text message from you puts your outage directly into our system. It’s just like calling in your outage, only faster.

What’s the key? The mobile number you use to text your outage must be listed on your PRECO account. There are three ways to update the number on your account:

  • Access your account online at or through our SmartHub mobile app.
  • Call 800-282-3824 and follow the prompts to access your account.
  • Speak to a Customer Care Representative by calling 800-282-3824.

How to Enroll

To begin using the outage texting system, you must first enroll by texting the word PRECO to 800-282-3824.

It’s as simple as that. The next time you have an outage, don’t call, just text.

Outage Texting FAQ

What commands are available? The system responds to three commands:

  • OUT – Submit an outage directly to our dispatch center.
  • STATUS – Request updates for an ongoing outage.
  • HELP – An automated response will provide PRECO’s toll-free number and other information.

Am I being charged for this service? Outage texting is a free service. You may, however, incur standard text message or data charges from your mobile carrier.

Can I enroll in outage texting if I don’t have an automated meter? No. A small number of members have an analog meter on their electric service. Outage texting only works for automated meters.

How do I opt out of outage text messaging? Text STOP to 800-282-3824.


PRECO Names Scholarship Winners

Operation Round Up, Peace River Electric Cooperative’s charitable foundation, granted $102,000 in college scholarships to 20 local students in 11 area schools. Since its launch in 2005, Operation Round Up has provided 234 college scholarships amounting to more than $1.1 million in the cooperative’s 10-county service area.

“In our current economy, many families are feeling the pinch of spiraling costs for basic needs, such as groceries, gasoline and medicines,” says Ellen Hamel, Operation Round Up board chairperson. “With these scholarship grants, we hope to ease some of the financial burden on college students and their families.”

To be eligible, student applicants must reside in a home served by PRECO, maintain good grades, be active in the community and submit an essay describing their life, career and educational goals.

Funding for Operation Round Up comes from the voluntary donations of PRECO’s member-consumers who allow their monthly electric bills to be “rounded up” to the next dollar. Funds collected are used to help local families and organizations with food, shelter, clothing, health, and education needs.

Learn more about Operation Round Up.

Scholarship winners

Liam Wilford                           Braden River High School                    $8,000

Michelle Leon-Garcia             Fort Meade High School                     $8,000

Sarah Gibson                         Hardee High School                             $2,000

Zachary Geiger                       Lakewood Ranch High School             $4,000

Sara Hutchinson                      Lakewood Ranch High School             $4,000

Nicole Hyer                             Lakewood Ranch High School             $4,000

Lexington Kahler                     Lakewood Ranch High School             $8,000

Sam Leavy                               Lakewood Ranch High School             $4,000

Kelsey McLeod                        Lakewood Ranch High School             $4,000

Hannah, Pruszinske                 Lakewood Ranch High School             $4,000

Gabriell Suazo-Gracia             Lakewood Ranch High School             $4,000

Courtney Bauer                      Manatee High School                          $4,000

Samantha Malcolm                Out-of-Door Academy                        $8,000

Eleanor Hopkins                      Palmetto High School                          $8,000

Lauren Schindler                     Saint Stephen’s Episcopal                   $8,000

David Iten                                Southeast High School                        $4,000

Emma Zolecki                         Southeast High School                        $4,000

Rachel Garland                       Florida Southern University                $4,000

Sydney Granack                      University of South Florida                 $4,000

Hudson Norman                     University of South Florida                 $4,000


Your Home Electrical System: What’s Yours, What’s Ours

Following Hurricane Irma in 2017, a few Peace River Electric Cooperative members were surprised to learn that the repair of some of their home’s electrical components is their responsibility. In fact, the National Electrical Safety Code does not allow our lineworkers to restore your electric service if your home can not safely accept power.

If your home’s weatherhead, service bracket, riser, meter socket or any related components are damaged, a qualified electrician must make repairs before your home can be reconnected. Unfortunately, these repairs can be quite costly. Are you prepared?

PRECO has selected HomeServe to offer our members optional Exterior Electrical Line Coverage for a low monthly cost. If your home’s exterior electrical components need repair, simply call HomeServe’s repair hotline. An account specialist will collect homeowner information and ask a local contractor to contact you to schedule a visit.

For more information about HomeServe or to sign up, go to or call 833-334-1874.

Graphic displaying consumer-owned and utility-owed electrical system


Charter Charitable Board Member Bill Hodge Retires

After 16 years of selfless service to Operation Round Up’s board of directors, William “Bill” Hodge has retired.

Bill Hodge receives clock and gift basket from Ellen Hamel
Operation Round Up Board, represented by Board Chair Ellen Hamel, recognizes Bill Hodge with a clock and a goodie basket in appreciation of his 16 years of service.

Bill was born in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, where he grew up on a farm. He served 15 years in the Army and fought in the Korean War. Formerly a boat captain and an assistant city manager, he spent most of his life as a cattle rancher, and, has lived in Hardee County for 27 years.

Bill is the last of the nine original board members that were present on March 16, 2005, when the first Operation Round Up board meeting was held at Peace River Electric Cooperative in Wauchula. The board learned the basics of the program, reviewed their job responsibilities and drew lots to set up the first staggered 3-year board terms.

Never one to shy away from responsibility, Bill served as the foundation’s treasurer from 2007 until his retirement. Respected by his peers for his leadership and keen insight, he served on ORU’s executive and scholarship committees for many years. Bill also helped put millions of dollars back into the local community.

“From Operation Round Up’s beginning in 2005, through 2021, Bill personally had a hand in granting over $2.4 million to help change lives in our service area,” shares Charlotte Heston, PRECO v.p. of corporate services. “Under his watch, funds were distributed to help build homes, support food ministries, sustain local youth in crisis, upgrade hospital services and much more.”

Bill is proud of the years he spent serving the community.

“I have in my long and greatly blessed life served on many boards, commissions and committees, but none that I have enjoyed more or felt a greater sense of service as I have on this one,” explains Bill. “But, all good things sooner or later must end; such is life. I am the last original member of this board, and at nearly 92 years old, I feel like it’s time to leave. I encourage the Operation Round Up board to continue its good work.”

“We wish Bill Hodge the very best in the future,” says Charlotte. “He leaves big boots (and a big hat) to fill. His influence will be greatly missed.”


Surge Suppressor Free Installation through May 2022

Peace of mind for only a few dollars a month

An electrical surge is a brief, sudden spike in voltage. Surges can occur from uncontrollable sources such as lightning, tree limbs on power lines, car crashes and even small animals on PRECO’s lines and equipment. Surges can also come from within your home, when major appliances, like your air conditioner or clothes dryer, cycle on and off. Even if lasting less than one second, surges can damage your electrical equipment.

One solution to power surges is to unplug every electrical device that isn’t currently in use, but that isn’t practical. A better alternative is a whole-house surge protector. At your request, PRECO will install a surge suppressor in your electric meter, offering our highest level of whole-house protection for your motor-driven appliances.

Free installation through May 2022

An installation fee of $24.95 typically applies, but act by May 31, 2022, and PRECO will install a surge suppressor in your meter socket free of charge! Then, for a monthly fee of only $5.95 (plus tax), you’ll enjoy our highest level of surge protection.

How do I sign up?

Complete an online form by visiting Tools/Surge Protection. To learn more, email us at or call 800-282-3824.

A surge suppressor connected to your electric meter is considered your first line of defense. We also recommend adding point-of-use surge protectors for individual devices such as computers, TVs and entertainment systems. Point-of-use surge suppressors, available at your local retailer, are rated in joules. Look for a rating of 600 joules or higher.

  • It is the consumer’s responsibility to protect their electronic devices.
  • Meter socket surge suppressors can stop power surges from coming into your home.
  • Installation typically occurs within 3-5 days after applying online.

You’re Invited to PRECO’s Annual Meeting March 19

Southern Express Bluegrass Band is scheduled to provide live entertainment

The 82nd Annual Membership Meeting of Peace River Electric Cooperative will take place at PRECO Park, 220 Knight Road, Wauchula, Florida, on Saturday, March 19, 2022, at 1:00 p.m.

At this year’s meeting:

  • Newly elected directors will be officially seated,
  • PRECO officers will present their annual reports,
  • Any other appropriate business will be considered by the members.

Registration begins at 10:00 a.m. and closes at 1:00 p.m. when the business meeting officially starts. At the conclusion of the business meeting, door prizes will be awarded by random drawing to registered ticket holders.

Registration guidelines:

  • The member of record must register upon arrival,
  • Photo identification is required to register, participate in the business meeting and win prizes,
  • Only individuals authorized on the account may register for a business. Contact PRECO at 800-282-3824 for more information.

All registered members will receive a $10 credit on their electric bill.

Please join us in conducting the business of your cooperative.