Houston – May 21, 2018 – Jesse Berard, a head line mechanic at CenterPoint Energy's Humble service center, was part of CenterPoint Energy's mutual assistance team that joined the more than 1,500 crews from other U.S. utilities to help Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) restore power following Hurricane Maria. "When I learned that CenterPoint Energy was part of the mutual assistance group traveling to Puerto Rico, I knew my skills and experience could make a positive difference," said Berard.
CenterPoint Energy sent two waves of mutual assistance crews to help with the power restoration in the Arecibo area. The crews faced logistical and geographical challenges. In addition, 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. CenterPoint Energy's mutual assistance teams were able to make great progress and restore power to more than 5,100 residents in the area.
"Because of the many challenges, this mission was unique. Crews often worked all day to restore service to only a handful of residents. Our highly skilled employees replaced a total of 276 poles and 2,674 spans of wire," said Ed Scott, director of operations for CenterPoint Energy.
This restoration mission was more difficult than any other CenterPoint Energy has worked on. A total of nine Humble service center linemen and employees were selected to help with the restoration efforts. "It was an honor to be a part of the mutual assistance crews and immensely gratifying to turn the lights on for Puerto Ricans," added Berard. "The residents of the region were very grateful. I will never forget the great memories and experiences of my time in this beautiful island."
In addition to Berard, the following CenterPoint Energy Humble service center employees supported the restoration efforts in Puerto Rico:
- Vincent Bustamante, line mechanic
- Kevin Cook, head line mechanic
- Angel Coronado, line mechanic
- Geoffrey Hill, line mechanic
- Joshua Gorman, apprentice lineman
- Charles Felice, line mechanic
- Cesar Ruiz, apprentice lineman
- Robert Thompson, line mechanic
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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