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Making an Impact in Puerto Rico

by on February 27, 2018


AEP CEO Nick Akins (far right) visits with workers in Puerto Rico during restoration efforts.

(Story by Bailey Cultice)

COLUMBUS, OH and CAGUAS, Puerto Rico – It’s a changing of the guard for AEP employees in Puerto Rico. The first deployment of employees has returned home as the second group of employees has landed in San Juan.

About 40 employees from AEP Ohio, Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power and Appalachian Power will spend the next month working to restore power to customers. Crews are based in the Caguas region, about 20 miles south of San Juan.

A group of senior AEP leaders, led by  Nick Akins, chairman, president and chief executive officer, visited employees at the staging area in Caguas on Feb. 23. The group of leaders also included Lisa Barton, executive vice president, Transmission; Paul Chodak, executive vice president, Utilities; Tom Kirkpatrick, vice president, Customer and Distribution Services; and Natalie McCord, vice president, Safety and Health.

“I always say this is a lineman’s finest hour and it is. I’m really proud of you and everyone back home is as well,” said Akins. “There’s no question you’re getting support from all 18,000 employees back home.”

Akins talked with employees about the challenges they’ve faced while working on the island. The Caguas region is located near the base of the rainforest and is lush with  vegetation. In some cases, crews have had to clear months of overgrowth from downed wires and poles before they can start work. Extra safety precautions have been taken, such as working in pairs. The additional safeguards have made a difference.

“This team, since they’ve been here, has been at Zero Harm. It’s incredible when you consider the traffic and the narrow mountain roads. We’ve had no injuries or switching errors. The crews have done an excellent job,” said Craig Harland, manager – distribution services, SWEPCO. Harland leads one of AEP’s Incident Management Teams (IMT) and is the deputy regional coordinator for the Caguas region.

According to the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), power has been restored to nearly 85 percent of customers on the island. Now, they expect the restoration effort to become more challenging as crews move away from urban centers to rural areas in more mountainous areas that are more difficult to access and that sustained more damage.

From → News From AEP

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