Originally Published by Southern Company.
The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) presented Southern Company with the association’s special 2018 Emergency Assistance Award for Puerto Rico Power Restoration for its contributions to the unprecedented emergency power restoration mission in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. The devastating Category 4 hurricane made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, impacting all critical infrastructure, damaging at least 80 percent of the island’s energy grid, and leaving all island residents without power.
Electric companies from the mainland that provided mutual assistance to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) faced incredibly challenging and complex restoration work because extensive portions of Puerto Rico’s energy grid are in rugged, mountainous terrain that has little or no road access. Getting crews and equipment to Puerto Rico also was much more complicated and time-intensive than deploying mutual assistance in the mainland, and it required extensive coordination among responding companies.
Nearly 60 investor-owned electric companies and public power utilities committed crews, equipment, and/or materials to the emergency power restoration mission. Overall, approximately 3,000 industry lineworkers and support personnel were involved in the restoration effort on the island.
On May 22, PREPA announced that power had been restored to 99 percent of its customers across the island who can receive electricity. This is a significant milestone that was reached by PREPA and its restoration partners, including FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its contractors, and industry mutual assistance crews. The resources, equipment, and people sent from the mainland, including those from Southern Company subsidiaries PowerSecure, Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Mississippi Power greatly accelerated the restoration process.
Assets from across the entire Southern Company system were deployed in this unprecedented restoration effort. PowerSecure began working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the early days of the response. Equipment and crews from each of Southern Company’s four electric operating companies Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Mississippi Power joined the mutual assistance effort and shipped hundreds of trucks bucket trucks, digger derricks, pickups and more to the island via barge. Southern Company system personnel replaced thousands of power poles to help restore power to tens of thousands of customers in Puerto Rico in extremely challenging conditions and over difficult terrain.
“The power restoration effort in Puerto Rico was a massive and unprecedented mission, and electric companies from across the country, including Southern Company, responded to the call for help,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “The electric power industry pulled together with one goal in mind, to restore power to the people of Puerto Ricoit truly was one team, one mission. Southern Company is deserving of this recognition for providing tremendous support to PREPA and our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.”
“On behalf of the entire Southern Company team, it is an honor to receive this recognition,” said Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning. “Southern Company is proud of the efforts and dedication of our personnel who took extended time away from their families to assist the citizens of Puerto Rico. The enormous commitment and hard work shown throughout our company and the entire industry was paramount in restoring Puerto Rico’s energy grid.”