The Edison Electric Institute presented Gulf Power with the association’s special 2018 Emergency Assistance Award for Puerto Rico Power Restoration recognizing its contributions to the unprecedented emergency power restoration mission on the island 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.
“Our lineworkers, engineers, team leaders and support staff who went to Puerto Rico demonstrated great efforts in assisting with restoration in Puerto Rico,” said Adrianne Collins, Gulf Power’s vice president of Power Delivery. “They were away from their families much longer than a normal storm trip and yet never wavered from their commitment to safety and dedication to restoring power and hope to the residents.”
Gulf Power joined its sister companies in Southern Company, which were among nearly 60 investor-owned electric companies and public power utilities that 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.
One Gulf Power storm team left for Puerto Rico in late January and worked 60 days; another team followed in March and worked for 21 days. Also, several team leaders, engineers and safety and IT employees took part in the effort.
The storm teams faced 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 was also much more complicated and time-intensive than deploying mutual assistance in the mainland, and it required extensive coordination among responding companies.
On May 22, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority 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, greatly accelerated the restoration process.
“The power restoration effort in Puerto Rico was a massive and unprecedented mission, and electric companies from across the country, including Gulf Power, 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 Rico — it truly was one team, one mission. Gulf Power is deserving of this recognition for providing tremendous support to PREPA and our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.”