Houston – Feb. 12, 2018 – A new team of 70 CenterPoint Energy employees arrived in Puerto Rico over the weekend, joining the more than 1,500 crews from other U.S. utilities that are helping Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) restore power following the devastation of Hurricane Maria. This second team of skilled linemen replaced the initial 70 employees who have been working on the island since mid-January.
"We continue to make progress having restored power to nearly 1,500 residents in the Arecibo area since we arrived on the island," said Ed Scott, director of operations for CenterPoint Energy. "Because of the logistical and geographical challenges, this mission has been unique. Crews will often work all day to restore service to only a handful of residents. But our employees are highly skilled and dedicated to the task at hand, having replaced 152 poles and more than 1,400 spans of wire to date."
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 their location and damage from the storm.
"CenterPoint Energy crews continue to work hand-in-hand with other utilities to overcome these challenges. It's immensely gratifying to turn the lights on for the residents of Puerto Rico," added Scott.
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.
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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