PPL Electric Utilities is sending 72 employees from across its Pennsylvania service area to help communities and people in southwest Louisiana recover from Hurricane Rita, the second major hurricane to strike the state in a month.
The contingent, including linemen, engineers, technicians, supervisors and support personnel, left Sept. 28 for an Entergy Corporation staging area near Lake Charles, Louisiana, an area hit hard by Hurricane Rita.
"Hurricane Rita has caused further upheaval for countless businesses and people who live and work along the Gulf Coast," said John F. Sipics, president of PPL Electric Utilities. "Our employees are again joining with other utilities and electrical contractors from across the country to help bring basic services back to people who have faced such widespread devastation and lost so much."
PPL Electric Utilities employees sent to Mississippi and Louisiana to help in the recovery following Hurricane Katrina have all returned home.
Sipics said the decision to send another group of employees to the Gulf Coast was made after assessing the company's workload, maintenance needs and emergency response to power outages in its Pennsylvania service territory.
"As always, our priority is to provide reliable service to PPL's 1.3 million customers in Pennsylvania. We will have enough employees to handle our own workload and respond to our customers' needs," Sipics added. "There may be times when our response times are delayed, and we ask for our customers' understanding as we respond to this national emergency.
"There's a significant humanitarian need in the South, and as a company of skilled, experienced utility workers we feel a duty to respond to that need," he said.
Utilities have well-established procedures to help each other in times of need. 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.