FPL lineworkers work to restore power in areas affected by hurricanes and wildfire

FPL Honors Storm Heroes for Excellence in Restoration

May 30, 2019
Twenty-five lineworkers provide mutual assistance following four out-of-state disasters in a single year.

Due to the nature of the job, lineworkers are often called on in the middle of the night to get the lights back on for customers. At times, they must also travel to faraway places to restore power following severe storms and natural disasters.

At Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), 25 lineworkers went above and beyond the call of duty by providing mutual assistance for four natural disasters from Puerto Rico to Northern California with stops in the Carolinas, Georgia and Panhandle of Florida in between. By volunteering to respond to Hurricanes Maria, Florence and Michael and the historic Camp Fire, this group spent nearly half a year away from their families and friends.

FPL recognized 25 lineworkers for volunteering in four storm events. Back row from left: Roger Johnson, Dave Brown, Ryan Smith, Mack Day, Daniel Murphy, Rodrigo Arratia, Brad Meadows, Christopher Cassidy, Michael Hancock, Timothy Stickel, Bill Lanier. Middle row from left: Scott Lewis, Thomas Remigio, Jose Santiago, William Shrader, Richard Mackie, Charlie Simmons, Horace Green, Stephen Neville, Danny Wertz. Front row from left: Rodney Anderson, Robert Suarez, Troy Brown, Bryan Smith. Not pictured: Lee The

FPL provided relief to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

“Volunteering in even one restoration means being away from friends and family for an extended period of time, yet 25 of our lineworkers volunteered for all four mutual assistance events to help others in need,” said Manny Miranda, senior vice president of power delivery for FPL.

Supporting Fire Restoration Efforts

As Florida’s largest energy provider serving more than five million customer accounts, FPL is no stranger to responding to Mother Nature’s worst. Following major events, other companies often call on them for the assistance and expertise.

After the historic Camp Fire, more than 100 FPL lineworkers and support staff worked alongside Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) to rebuild the grid in Northern California where crews reported to an emergency operations center set up in Chico, California.

An FPL line specialist restores power to customers after Hurricane Florence in Columbus County, North Carolina, on Sept. 17, 2018.

FPL lineworkers provided mutual assistance following one of the wildfires in California.

A select group of FPL lineworkers went out on not one — but four — disasters last year to restore power and get the lights back on.

“We know how important it is for all of us to come together and to help our fellow Americans in their greatest time of need,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “Our team was honored to work alongside PG&E to do our part to help rebuild the grid to those devastated by this natural disaster. As we have done throughout this year, we always stand at the ready to provide additional assistance whenever and wherever it is needed for our fellow citizens when they recover from challenging events like this.”

Helping with Hurricanes

The Camp Fire marked the fourth time in 2018 FPL crews were deployed to assist in the power restoration after a natural disaster. Earlier in the year, FPL crews spent three months in Bayamon region of Puerto Rico to restore power to residents after Hurricane Maria.

FPL crews also helped restore power in the Carolinas, Florida’s Panhandle and South Georgia — some of the hardest hit areas impacted by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

FPL restores power after Hurricane Michael in Altha, Florida, on Oct. 21, 2018.

These crews worked 16-hour days for almost two weeks to get the lights back on for homes and businesses in Columbus County, North Carolina, and other badly hit areas following Florence. To recognize the energy company for its assistance in restoring power after the storm, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) presented FPL with its Emergency Assistance Award.

 “We know all too well what it’s like after a hurricane and we will always stand at the ready to provide additional assistance whenever and wherever it is needed,” Silagy said. “I’m honored our crews’ hard work is getting such recognition.”

A billboard welcomed line crews back home after being away on restoration.

EEI’s Emergency Assistance Award is given to select EEI member companies to recognize their outstanding response assisting other electric companies in power restoration efforts after service has been disrupted by severe weather conditions or other natural events. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process.

“When disasters strike, neighboring electric companies respond quickly to assist with recovery and restoration efforts,” said Tom Kuhn, president of EEI. “Our mutual assistance network is a hallmark of the electric power industry. FPL’s extraordinary efforts — amidst hazardous conditions — helped to restore service for customers in North Carolina impacted by Hurricane Florence quickly and safely.”

Soon after, FPL found itself helping neighboring energy companies respond to Hurricane Michael. A formidable storm and one of the strongest to ever hit Florida’s Panhandle. Lineworkers restored power to almost 16,000 homes and businesses unable to receive power due to damage from the storm. They were deployed to communities of Altha, Blountstown, Marianna and Panama City, Florida, as well as Bainbridge, Americus and Tifton, Georgia.

“Hurricane Michael was a catastrophic storm that decimated communities throughout the entire Southeast,” Silagy said. “Our team was honored to work alongside other energy companies to do our part to return normalcy to so many.”

When it comes to storm restoration, for some of those lineworkers, it’s more than just a job – it’s part of who they are.

“The opportunity to help the people who are in need is so gratifying,” said Steven Neville, senior lineworker for FPL.

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