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Utility trucks staged on James Island on Monday morning. Prentiss Findley/Staff

Power outages spread across South Carolina as winds from Tropical Storm Irma knocked out electricity at hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses Monday.

By late afternoon, nearly 273,000 electric customers across the Palmetto State had lost power, mostly along the coast. The number of outages has crept up steadily throughout the day as a band of rains and wind swept over the state.

Outages were scattered across South Carolina as tropical storm force winds covered the entirety of the state, and throughout the day, downed lines followed Irma north through the Pee Dee and over to the Upstate. But the bulk came from the coast, especially between Charleston and Beaufort.

South Carolina Electric & Gas accounted for most of the outages statewide, reaching more than 135,000 in its coverage area, which stretches from Columbia and Charleston to the Georgia state line. That's far more than the utility had initially expected before Irma arrived.

The state's 20 electric cooperatives reported almost 100,000 outages across the state. Tens of thousands of customers were without power on the coast south of Charleston, with smaller outages scattered through the Midlands and Upstate.

The co-ops were strained in part by downed transmission lines owned by Moncks Corner-based Santee Cooper, which generates most of the electricity the co-ops use. Mollie Gore, a spokeswoman for the state-run power company, said four transmission lines went out Monday, three of which provided power to co-ops on the coast and in the Midlands. They were restored by late afternoon.

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The bulk of the outages statewide came from the Charleston area, which totaled nearly 83,000 homes and businesses. That's roughly a quarter of customers in the tri-county area.

Elsewhere, the electric grid in Columbia, Greenville and Myrtle Beach appeared hold up better, but no region got through Irma's rains and winds fully unscathed.

"We’re working to assess storm damages and, at the same time, our operating personnel have begun the process of restoring power," Bill Turner, SCE&G's vice president of electric operations, said in a statement. "We appreciate the patience of our customers and ask them make safety their top priority as well."

Reach Thad Moore at 843-937-5703. Follow him on Twitter @thadmoore.