Norwich Public Utilities sends utility crews to Puerto Rico
Norwich – Norwich Public Utilities will send rotating two-person crews to Puerto Rico starting Wednesday as part of a national effort to restore power on the island still recovering from two hurricanes last September.
NPU will send the first two-person line crew, comprised of Will Maxeiner and Tom Holmes, to the island on Wednesday. NPU has already has sent a utility bucket truck to Norfolk, Va., to be loaded onto a barge that is expected to arrive in Puerto Rico on Saturday, NPU spokesman Chris Riley said. On or about Feb. 7, a second crew of two line workers will relieve Maxeiner and Holmes.
NPU is participating as a member of the American Public Power Association, which is supporting the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) in the restoration effort, along with other mainland utilities and the federal government.
The NPU crews will be paid by PREPA, which will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Riley said.
“Whenever NPU has the capacity and the ability to provide mutual aid to another utility and to help thousands of people in need, we will,” NPU General Manager John Bilda said in a press release. “We are proud to provide support to the residents of Puerto Rico during this unprecedented time.”
The NPU crews will be working in Carolina, a city with a population of about 113,000 on the northeast coast of Puerto Rico, under one of seven Incident Management Teams set up by the electric industry.
Approximately 1,500 utility workers from the mainland United States, including line workers and others from public power utilities and investor-owned utilities, are deploying to Puerto Rico this month alone to help PREPA restore electric service.
It is estimated that 62 percent of customers in Puerto Rico now have electricity. NPU crews will be working to repair and reinstall utility poles and wires that are part of the heavily damaged distribution system.
NPU provided extensive mutual aid to the U.S. Virgin Islands in the fall, with 10 workers – two or three at a time – working on St. Thomas, restoring power to thousands of residents who lost power from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.