Residents in Puerto Rico are greeting workers from PPL Corporation’s utility companies with cheers and even hugs for their restoration efforts.
Crews from PPL Electric Utilities in Pennsylvania and Louisville Gas and Electric (LG&E) and Kentucky Utilities (KU) in Kentucky have been busy safely restoring power to businesses, homes and community centers, including a church and a school. They are part of a massive mutual assistance effort coordinated by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), involving 18 utility companies from around the country.
PPL Electric Utilities, LG&E and KU in January sent about 50 vehicles and almost 70 employee volunteers to the hurricane-battered island. The employees continue to set poles and run electrical wire to provide power to residents who have been in the dark since Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico in September.
“From a logistics and planning perspective, this is an unprecedented mobilization effort for our company and the industry as a whole,” said John Wolfe, LG&E and KU vice president-Electric Distribution and co-chair of the EEI Mutual Assistance and Emergency Preparedness Executive Committee. “We know the value of mutual assistance partnerships and are proud to step up and lend our resources and expertise to this initiative to help get Puerto Rico back on its feet.”
EEI, an industry trade group working in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), said power has been restored to 77 percent of customers, more than 1 million people.
PPL crew leaders said workers have been energized by the appreciation shown by Puerto Rican residents. Students and teachers at Escuela Alfonso Lopez O’Neill elementary school shouted loud cheers of thanks on Feb. 8 to PPL crews after they restored power to the building, which had been without electricity for five months. Some of the teachers had tears in their eyes.
“People here have been very appreciative of our efforts,” said Brian Matweecha, manager-Safety Operations for PPL Electric Utilities.