Less than two weeks after Hurricane Michael left the Florida Panhandle--and 30 hours ahead of the estimated timeline--Gulf Power restored power to more than 95 percent of all of its customers who were safely able to take power, according to the company.
By working alongside storm crews from across the country, Gulf Power was able to rebuild a significant portion of the electrical system in Bay County, which serves about 103,000 customers. Stan Connally, chairman, president and CEO of Gulf Power, says it was a major milestone.
“It was important for us to quickly mobilize the resources needed to rebuild our energy system and restore power for our Gulf Power customers for this critical first step in recovery for the entire community,” Connally says on a story on Gulf Power's Web site. “However, the work is just beginning for many, with thousands of Gulf Power customers unable to safely reconnect.”
While more than 95 percent of the customers who could take power is restored, Gulf Power estimates about 15,000 to 20,000 customers still cannot safely take power due to hurricane damage to their home or business.
“The entire storm restoration team has felt the appreciation and encouragement from the community, and we want to thank each one of our customers for their patience and support as we worked around the clock to restore power,” Connally said. “And that commitment won’t stop as we transition our work to customer reconnects and completing the rebuild of the smart-grid infrastructure.”
Support crews from across the country traveled to Florida to help Gulf Power to restore power. Although many of these linemen have already returned home, more than 1,000 crew members including transmission, distribution, tree trimmers and damage assessment team members will remain as boots on the ground, according to Gulf Power. This large restoration team will be focused on customer reconnects, electrical equipment clean up and physically and electrically repairing the system to pre-storm condition and reliability.
“We are keeping a team of approximately 10 times the number of crew members than normally work the four-county area affected by Hurricane Michael to ensure we can serve our customers as quickly and safely as possible. It is our mission to assist in accelerating the recovery of these communities because this is our home and we are here to stay,” Connally says. “This was an unprecedented storm, and our unprecedented response will continue.”
View the following photo gallery to see Colin Hackley's photos of the storm restoration, damage from the hurricane and the rebuilding process by the mutual aid crews. Also, for more information, visit Gulf Power's Web site.