Southern Company announced on Saturday that lineworkers and support staff from each of Southern Company's four electric operating companies – Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Mississippi Power – will be deployed to Puerto Rico. Personnel were scheduled to arrive in Puerto Rico on Jan. 20, to help restore power safely and as quickly as possible to areas impacted by Hurricane Maria as part of an industry mutual assistance effort coordinated through the Edison Electric Institute.
As part of this effort, on Wednesday, Jan. 3, Southern Company launched a barge from the Port of Chickasaw in Mobile, Alabama, filled with trucks, tools and support equipment. That vessel arrived in Puerto Rico on Jan. 15 in order for those much-needed supplies to be ready for the additional lineworkers and staff.
"Southern Company is proud to increase our assistance to the citizens of Puerto Rico," said Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning. "In the face of this enormous challenge, our employees are dedicated to the effort and determined to restore and repair Puerto Rico's energy grid."
Southern Company system lineworkers and staff will work under the direction of the 10-person Incident Management Team (IMT) Southern Company deployed in early December to support Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority's (PREPA) regional directors. That Southern Company IMT is one of seven such teams assigned to seven regions of Puerto Rico under coordination with PREPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The new wave of personnel will join the IMT in continued support of restoration in the Mayaguez region on the western side of Puerto Rico.
In addition to the IMT, Southern Company's Puerto Rico response includes 400 personnel from another Southern Company subsidiary, PowerSecure, Inc., who have been working in Puerto Rico since October under a contract with the USACE. The Southern Company system has been steadily involved in restoration efforts including; damage assessment, clearing debris, resetting poles, mobilizing equipment, providing temporary emergency power, ensuring adequate generation at power plants, and reinstalling and repairing transmission and distribution lines.
With this new wave of personnel, the total number of restoration workers in Puerto Rico will increase to more than 5,500. This includes crews such as those with PowerSecure mobilized under USACE contracts, PREPA's own resources, industry mutual assistance crews and others. Mutual assistance is a hallmark of the energy industry, playing a critical role in the restoration of the grid after major weather events. PowerSecure has extensive experience in storm restorations and has deployed crews for every named storm to hit the U.S. in the past eight years.
Southern Company remains committed to the people of Puerto Rico and to this massive, unprecedented restoration undertaking.