Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) crews returned to California on Saturday, concluding more than two weeks of restoration work in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
Working on both coasts of Florida, PG&E crews safely responded to more than 650 repair jobs, restoring more than 41,000 customers. PG&E estimates more than 20,000 hours of effort from line workers were focused on restoration and repair work during the two-week deployment.
“We’re incredibly impressed, but not at all surprised, by the accomplishments of our coworkers who helped turn the lights back on in Florida. Restoring power is a crucial step in returning back to normalcy, and we’re honored that PG&E could play a part," said Nick Stavropoulos, president and Chief Operating Officer of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
Providing support to other energy companies throughout the nation during major natural disasters is one of the hallmarks of the energy industry. Consistent with this commitment, PG&E sent about 125 employees, including IBEW Local 1245 line workers, equipment operators, supervisors and support personnel to Florida on Sept. 8. This was in response to a mutual-aid agreement between PG&E and Florida Power & Light (FPL), which saw 4.4 million of its customers lose power as a result of the fury of Hurricane Irma.
In 2014, PG&E and FPL signed an historic, cross-continent mutual-aid agreement, pledging support in the event of a major natural disaster, such as an earthquake in California or a hurricane in Florida. Besides the commitment of personnel, the agreement between PG&E and FPL includes logistics, common work procedures and safety protocols. Per the agreement, FPL as the host utility will cover the costs of this support.
One week after PG&E crews arrived in Florida, PG&E and FPL expanded the mutual-aid agreement to include customer call center capabilities. About 30 representatives in the Sacramento Contact Center began answering FPL calls on Sept. 16.
FPL leaders acknowledged the support of PG&E crews several times during their time in Florida. PG&E’s storm soldiers flew into Sacramento on Saturday, Sept. 23, and were greeted by company leaders and some family members.
Stavropoulos noted that a comment by Jerry Liebenow, a PG&E lineman based in Kern County who was part of the Irma contingent, embodied the spirit of the whole group.
“It does make me feel good to give back to the community – not just our community, but all communities,” Liebenow said.