Houston – Jan. 19, 2018 – This morning, CenterPoint Energy crews departed for Puerto Rico as part of a nationwide, coordinated power restoration plan involving several investor-owned electric companies. CenterPoint Energy's 70 employees will join the more than 1,500 additional restoration crew members from other utilities traveling to the island to support the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) in the next phase of its restoration process. CenterPoint Energy expects its employees and resources to be in Puerto Rico for approximately six weeks.
"We are fully committed to restoring power to Puerto Rico as quickly and as safely as possible," said Ed Scott, director of operations for CenterPoint Energy. "This restoration mission will be more difficult than any other we have worked on, but our crews are prepared to work long hours safely, facing the logistical and geographical challenges accompanying the historic damage to Puerto Rico's infrastructure."
CenterPoint Energy's equipment departed from the Port of Lake Charles in Louisiana on Jan. 3. The barge carrying the trucks and equipment arrived yesterday in the Port of Ponce, Puerto Rico. Once the crews land, they will be transported to the port to collect the equipment and drive the trucks to the Arecibo region, where they will be stationed. This weekend, crews will start working 16-hour shifts after a safety and onboarding process. The company is making plans to send at least one additional shift.
In late October, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the American Public Power Association (APPA) received a request from PREPA to support power restoration efforts on the island. In early November, PREPA expanded its aid request to include the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).
As a result, a team of electric company storm response experts has been on the ground coordinating closely with local officials, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The team has been focused on assessing damages and formalizing a structure for supporting logistics, equipment needs and supply chain issues, as well as ensuring ongoing restoration efforts are completed safely, effectively and efficiently. Experts have identified basecamps for crews and staging sites for materials that will allow workers and materials to be located closer to restoration areas.
Extensive portions of Puerto Rico's electric grid are located in rugged, mountainous terrain that has little or no road access due to Hurricane Maria's impact. Some customers may not be able to receive power to their homes or businesses because of damage from the storm.
"CenterPoint Energy crews will be working hand-in-hand with other utilities to overcome these challenges and assist our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico," added Scott.
CenterPoint Energy is part of electric utility mutual assistance programs that provide access to thousands of linemen and tree trimmers from around the country to lend a hand during widespread power outage emergencies. Coming to the aid of other utilities is nothing new to CenterPoint Energy employees. Over the years, crews have responded and restored power to hundreds of thousands of customers throughout the country who have been left in the dark following hurricanes, ice storms, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.
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