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PPL workers head to Florida to restore power

Published September 13. 2017 07:10AM

Utility workers from Pennsylvania are among the “small army” trying to restore power to Florida residents in the wake of hurricane Irma.

PPL says that about 80 employees and another 300 contract workers are in Florida working on different projects to restore power.

They’re just a small part of the mass of utility workers that headed south to rebuild after the storm.

“Florida power and light, which is one of the major utilities down there, they’re saying it’s one of if not the largest power restoration workforce in us U.S. history,” PPL Spokesman Joe Nixon said.

Utilities across the country have mutual-aid agreements for when bad storms hit. It’s similar to the relationship that local fire companies share. Utilities from other states have sent workers to Pennsylvania to help restore service after big storms.

“Back in 2012 after hurricane Sandy, we had workers from 10 states, as far as Texas and Michigan, who helped us restore power for PPL customers,” Nixon said.

During Sandy, an estimated 1.2 million people lost power in Pennsylvania — that includes all utilities, not just PPL.

By comparison, an estimated 7 million people have lost power due to Hurricane Irma.

The workforce from Pennsylvania left Saturday morning, including electric workers and tree crews. A 21-person management team was requested by FPL to oversee repairs to 10 different substations that were affected by the storm.

The other workers were directed to Orlando, where Nixon said they were staging in the parking lot of Epcot Center to be dispatched when needed.

While some workers in South Florida were reportedly forced to stay in a sports arena, the workers from Pennsylvania are all in some kind of hotel accommodations.

Nixon said that despite having 300-plus workers tied up in Florida, PPL will respond to outages here in Pennsylvania at the same speed the would any other day of the year.

“We are retaining personnel back here to be able to support ongoing operations here in Pennsylvania, and respond to any problems that may come up on the system — so we’re definitely covered,” he said.

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