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AEP recognized for getting the lights on both at home and away

by on January 16, 2013

(Story by Laura Wentz)

EEI President Tom Kuhn presented the Emergency Recovery Award and Emergency Assistance Award to Bob Powers for AEP's response to the derecho in June and assistance to other utilities during Hurricane Sandy. Photo courtesy of the Edison Electric Institute.

EEI President Tom Kuhn presented the Emergency Recovery Award and Emergency Assistance Award to Bob Powers for AEP’s response to the derecho in June and assistance to other utilities during Hurricane Sandy. Photo courtesy of the Edison Electric Institute.

The Edison Electric Institute has recognized American Electric Power for its outstanding efforts in both restoring electricity to its own customers and assisting other utilities during two major storms in 2012. The Emergency Recovery Award and the Emergency Assistance Award were presented at EEI’s January CEO meeting.

AEP Ohio, Appalachian Power, Indiana Michigan Power and Kentucky Power were specifically recognized for response to the derecho storm that plowed through AEP’s eastern service territory in June 2012.

“This storm didn’t have a named status, but its fast movement and hurricane force winds challenged our company and many other utilities,” said Nick Akins, AEP president and chief executive officer. “AEP’s employees, contractors and workers from other utilities battled extreme heat to safely turn the lights back on for the 2.5 million customers affected after the storm.”

“Our employees have a long legacy of doing whatever is necessary to get power back on when major weather events interrupt service,” said Bob Powers, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “I am very pleased and honored to accept this award on their behalf and thank them for their dedication during uncomfortable conditions and a restoration process that encompassed the Independence Day holiday.”

Electric utilities experienced more than 4.3 million customers without power in 10 states and the District of Columbia, including the 1.4 million American Electric Power customers affected at the storm’s peak.

“American Electric Power was faced with a major restoration effort following the derecho,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “Getting the lights back on quickly and safely is never easy following these natural disasters. It takes strong commitment, advanced planning, and great execution. AEP responded with all three. They’re a great example for the nation’s electric power industry. I congratulate them.”

All seven operating companies – AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power, Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma and Southwestern Electric Power Company – were celebrated for their assistance to other utilities after Hurricane Sandy in October.

“Some crews were away from home for weeks — first assisting Appalachian Power and Kentucky who were also affected by Hurricane Sandy, then traveling to assist outside utilities further north and east,” Akins said. “Knowing there was a large need for resources in the northeast, we released company and contract resources to other utilities as we fought outages on our own system. Once Appalachian Power and Kentucky Power customers were restored, even more company and contract employees headed to help other utilities.”

“At a time when fatigue and complacency can easily set in, our employees rose to the challenge. I’ve heard several instances of employees speaking up about proper safety practices and making a plan to finish the job quickly, but always safely.”

After restoring service in AEP’s own service territory, AEP company and contract crews worked to restore power primarily in New York, New Jersey and northeastern West Virginia following Superstorm Sandy.

AEP company and contract crews primarily worked in New York, New Jersey and northeastern West Virginia. During the restoration effort, approximately 50 percent of all AEP’s company and contract line resources were working in the Northeast.

“AEP’s restoration assistance following Hurricane Sandy was truly remarkable,” Kuhn said. “Working through the industry’s mutual assistance program, AEP’s crews were essential in helping their fellow utility companies restore service in affected neighborhoods. Importantly, AEP’s assistance also shows their compassion in helping others in their time of need.”

The EEI Emergency Response and Assistance Awards are presented annually to U.S. and foreign-based member companies to recognize outstanding response and mutual assistance in restoring electric service to a neighboring or nearby utility company that has been disrupted by severe weather conditions or other natural events.

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