Emergency utility repair crews from the Rockies eastward have been brought to bear in the U.S. power sector’s massive efforts to restore electricity service lost due to hurricane Irene.
“Virtually every available utility crew and line worker east of the Rockies have been mobilized to help bring power back online,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn, noting that nearly 1,500 crews have been dispatched in New England alone. “Irene’s sustained high winds and rain over such a huge portion of the East, with major flooding an ongoing problem in many areas, will make this one for the record books. So, our industry is mobilizing a huge response to a very punishing storm.”
Utilities this afternoon reported that roughly 1.7 million customers remained without electricity—a swift and substantial improvement from peak outages of more than 6 million a few days ago—but a great deal of work clearly remains. The vast geography of Irene’s path of destruction has complicated the task of dispatching emergency repair crews from other utilities in helping eastern utilities whose systems were battered by the storm. Moreover, still-flooded neighborhoods and impassable roadways further impeded power restoration, as crews reported difficulty reaching areas still in need of damage assessment and possible repairs.
“The longer you’re without power, the greater your frustration—we understand that,” Kuhn said. “That’s why mutual assistance crews from one utility literally line up to help those of another. No one rests until everyone’s lights are back on,” said Kuhn, who also praised the dedication and grit of the utility workers and contractors who log long hours under difficult conditions to help restore electricity. “Those guys are the heart and soul of our mutual assistance program, and without them, this job would be impossible,” Kuhn said.
“A speedy storm restoration requires significant logistical expertise, along with plenty of line workers and specialized equipment,” Kuhn said. “Mutual assistance is an essential part of electric utility business planning, and it’s the cornerstone of member company assistance during emergencies.”