HOUSTON, Dec. 26, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of a nationwide, coordinated power restoration plan involving several investor-owned electric companies, CenterPoint Energy, Inc.'s (NYSE : CNP ) electric utility is sending 68 employees in early January to accelerate the ongoing power restoration efforts in Puerto Rico. CenterPoint Energy's team will join the more than 1,500 additional restoration crew members from other utilities traveling to the island to support the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) in the next phase of its restoration process. CenterPoint Energy expects its employees and resources to be in Puerto Rico for approximately six weeks.
"It's now time for utility crews like ours to come in and help with this next phase of Puerto Rico's restoration process and we're proud to be part of our industry's response," said Ed Scott, director of operations for CenterPoint Energy. "While we've participated in many mutual assistance trips, it is unprecedented for us to put our equipment, bucket trucks and electric supplies on a barge that will take two weeks to arrive on the island. We are fully committed to restoring power to Puerto Rico as quickly and as safely as possible."
In late October, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the American Public Power Association (APPA) received a request from PREPA to support power restoration efforts on the island. In early November, PREPA expanded its aid request to include the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).
As a result, a team of electric company storm response experts has been on the ground coordinating closely with local officials, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The team has been focused on assessing damages and formalizing a structure for supporting logistics, equipment needs and supply chain issues, as well as ensuring ongoing restoration efforts are completed safely, effectively and efficiently. Experts have identified basecamps for crews and staging sites for materials that will allow workers and materials to be located closer to restoration areas.
As part of the process, CenterPoint Energy's equipment will depart from the Port of Lake Charles in Louisiana later this week. Additional details will be made available as they are finalized.
The first shift of 68 CenterPoint Energy employees will fly to Puerto Rico on Jan. 13 and start working 16-hour shifts on Jan. 15 after a safety and onboarding process. The company is making plans to send at least one additional shift.
Extensive portions of Puerto Rico's electric grid are located in rugged, mountainous terrain that has little or no road access due to Hurricane Maria's impact. Some customers may not be able to receive power to their homes or businesses because of damage from the storm.
"This restoration mission will be more difficult than any other we have worked on, but our crews are prepared to work long hours safely, facing the logistical and geographical challenges accompanying the historic damage to Puerto Rico's infrastructure," said Scott.
CenterPoint Energy is part of electric utility mutual assistance programs that provide access to thousands of linemen and tree trimmers from around the country to lend a hand during widespread power outage emergencies. Coming to the aid of other utilities is nothing new to CenterPoint Energy employees. Over the years, crews have responded and restored power to hundreds of thousands of customers throughout the country who have been left in the dark following hurricanes, ice storms, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.
CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution and energy services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas. The company also owns 54.1 percent of the common units representing limited partner interests in Enable Midstream Partners, a publicly traded master limited partnership it jointly controls with OGE Energy Corp., which owns, operates and develops natural gas and crude oil infrastructure assets. With more than 7,700 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 150 years. For more information, please visit www.CenterPointEnergy.com.
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SOURCE CenterPoint Energy, Inc.