PPL Electric Utilities is responding to one of the country's worst natural disasters by sending 110 employees to help restore electricity along the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina.
The company's contingent, which left Thursday morning, includes linemen, engineers, technicians, supervisors and support personnel from across eastern and central Pennsylvania.
"Images of devastation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are heart- rending," said John F. Sipics, president of PPL Electric Utilities. "Our employees are taking part in a humanitarian effort to bring basic services back to people who have lost everything."
After receiving requests for help last weekend from utilities along the Gulf Coast, PPL Electric Utilities on Monday released more than 90 line and electrical workers employed by a contractor that the company uses to supplement its crews.
"We kept our workers here until the storm passed through this area. The remnants of Katrina had very little effect on our customers, who always are our first priority," Sipics said.
"Because we are sending 200 of our employees and contractors to help with the recovery from this disaster, we are making plans to defer some lower- priority work until they return. We will have more than 500 line and electrical workers staying here to connect new customers, do basic line and equipment maintenance, and respond to power outages, but without our full complement of workers there may be an effect on response times," he said.
Utilities frequently help each other in times of need. Local utilities in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama have asked for 11,000 linemen to help rebuild power lines and bring electricity back to the region.
PPL Electric Utilities has provided help to companies in several states, and has been the recipient of help from utilities when severe weather has hit Pennsylvania. The support of other companies is critical to bringing electric service back to people as quickly as possible after major storms.
PPL Electric Utilities' employees will be reporting to a staging area in Jackson, Mississippi, for utility workers from across the country who are responding to the disaster. From there, the workers from PPL Electric Utilities will be assigned to a work location.
PPL Electric Utilities Corporation is a subsidiary of PPL Corporation and is headquartered in Allentown, Pennsylvania.