Houston – CenterPoint Energy announced that its second team of 70 employees has returned to Houston following three weeks of work to help the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) restore power following the devastation of Hurricane Maria. In all, CenterPoint Energy sent two teams of 140 skilled linemen and employees to work alongside the more than 1,500 crews from other U.S. utilities over the past six weeks.
“CenterPoint Energy is proud to have been part of the mutual assistance crews restoring power to the residents of Puerto Rico,” said Ed Scott, director of operations for CenterPoint Energy. “Since our arrival in mid-January, we were able to restore power to more than 5,100 residents in the Arecibo region.”
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 were not able to receive power to their homes or businesses because of their location and damage from the storm.
“Because of the logistical and geographical challenges, this mission was unique. Crews often worked all day to restore service to only a handful of residents. But our highly skilled and dedicated employees replaced a total of 276 poles and 2,674 spans of wire,” said Scott. “We will never forget the great memories and experiences of our time in Puerto Rico. We would like to express our deep appreciation to the residents of this beautiful island for their heartfelt warmth and hospitality.”
Scott added, “Now it’s important for us to prepare for the upcoming spring storm and hurricane season.”
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.