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AEP Sends Employees to Help Restore Power in Puerto Rico

by on December 11, 2017

SWEPCO employees before flying to Caguas, Puerto Rico. From left to right: Todd Hopwood, Bubba Griffin, April Bailey, Tony Rash, Mike Free, James H. Lyles, Martin Hegert, Leslie Hedgepath. Not pictured: Bryan Blanton and Carl Sweigart.

(Story by Shanelle Hinkle Moore)

On Sunday, December 10, 11 AEP employees flew to Caguas, Puerto Rico, to help manage power restoration. Nearly 30 percent of homes in Puerto Rico are still without electric power. Hurricane Maria heavily hit Caguas, a remote and mountainous area.

The AEP employees are one of seven Incident Management Teams from U.S. energy companies traveling to the island.

Phil Lewis, AEP’s Emergency Restoration Planning manager, is coordinating the company’s incident command assistance. “AEP is glad to provide the expertise of our people for this important work,” he said. “I think this is the first time that AEP has sent employees to assist in restoration in the Caribbean region.”

Bryan Blanton, distribution system manager in Longview, Texas, will lead a team of storm response experts from SWEPCO. They will manage nearly 3,000 workers already on the island. The team will work 12 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week until early January.

“We’re honored to have the opportunity to help bring power back to the people of Puerto Rico. The conditions in Puerto Rico are dire, and they need power restored as quickly as possible. We have the expertise to do that, and we are happy to be able to help,” Blanton said.

Jon Cronin, transmission line manager in Columbus, Ohio, will help coordinate transmission line restoration. “I hope that the grid can be rebuilt in a more robust manner that can better withstand the weather-related threats which occur in that region,” Cronin said. He is brushing up on his high school Spanish-speaking skills with Rosetta Stone lessons. During his time there, he also plans to journal his experiences.

“Rebuilding the power grid in Puerto Rico will be challenging,” said Malcolm Smoak, SWEPCO vice president, Distribution. “We are pleased to provide the expertise of our employees to restore power as quickly and safely as possible for our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico.”

AEP is one of several energy companies providing resources and workers the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority in partnership with Edison Electric Institute. AEP is also sending 3,000 insulators to support Puerto Rico’s power restoration efforts.

The company plans to send another team to relieve these employees in early January.

Here is the AEP Puerto Rico Restoration Team: Jon Cronin, transmission line manager, Columbus, Ohio; Bryan Blanton, manager distribution system, Longview, TX; April Bailey, sustainability lead, Shreveport, LA; Mike Free, distribution dispatching coordinator, Shreveport, LA; Leslie Hedgepeth, distribution system supervisor, Shreveport, LA; Martin Hergert, distribution system supervisor, Marshall, TX; Todd Hopwood, manager distribution system, Fayetteville, AR; James H. Lyles, distribution system supervisor, Shreveport, LA; Tony Rash, safety and health manager, Shreveport, LA; Carl Sweigart, sustainability lead, Fayetteville, AR; and Bubba Griffin, distribution dispatching supervisor, Shreveport, LA.

From → News From AEP

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