Disaster Response and Mutual Aid

Association responds to PREPA request for power restoration assistance

The American Public Power Association and the Edison Electric Institute on Oct. 31 received a letter from Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority CEO Ricardo Ramos seeking assistance in bringing resources to Puerto Rico to support power restoration on the island.

In response, Sue Kelly, president and CEO of the Association, and Tom Kuhn, president of EEI, sent a letter to Ramos on Oct. 31 saying that the utility groups “look forward to working with you and with our government partners and their contractors to bring crews, equipment, material, and technical experts to the island to restore power for the people of Puerto Rico.”

“APPA and members of the public power community were pleased to receive today’s letter and the request for additional crews and equipment,” said Kelly. “We look forward to working with PREPA, our government partners, and the industry to support the ongoing power restoration process.”

“EEI and our member companies welcome today’s request from PREPA, which now allows our industry on the mainland to fully support the critical power restoration efforts underway in Puerto Rico,” said Kuhn. “We are already working with our member companies to mobilize crews, equipment, and technical experts in response to today’s letter.”

Kelly noted that Hurricane Maria caused historic damage to Puerto Rico, adding that considerable logistical issues remain.

“We know that restoring power to Puerto Rico will be challenging,” she said. As the letter from Ramos outlines, “extensive portions of the transmission network in Puerto Rico run through rugged, mountainous terrain with little or no road access. Much of the infrastructure will need to be rebuilt before power can be restored. While this is not a typical restoration process, we are fully committed to overcoming those challenges and bringing our experience and resources to Puerto Rico,” Kelly said.

Ramos cites “catastrophic destruction” to grid from Hurricanes Irma, Maria

“Due to the catastrophic destruction to our electrical infrastructure following hurricanes Irma and Maria, I urgently request your assistance in restoring the electrical infrastructure” of PREPA, Ramos wrote in his letter to Kelly and Kuhn.

“We know the American Public Power Association and the Edison Electric Institute have relationships across the electricity sector on the mainland and request your assistance in bringing resources to Puerto Rico to support power restoration on the island,” said Ramos in the letter. “We also understand that you have relationships with key federal and state government partners that can help expedite these requests,” he wrote.

In addition, Ramos said in the letter that due to “the design similarities of our systems and recent experience in undertaking large scale restoration following Superstorm Sandy, we would initially request assistance from New York State public and private utilities, but understand that the scope of damage and need for certain expertise could require additional support from electric companies across the United States.”

He noted that public and private utilities “from Florida are also available and can mobilize quickly due to the distance and transportation logistics between Florida and Puerto Rico.”   

Kelly, Kuhn respond to letter from Ramos

In their response to the letter from Ramos, Kelly and Kuhn wrote, “We now are working together and with our member companies throughout the industry to support this request.”

They noted that Mike Hyland, senior vice president for engineering services at the Association, and Scott Aaronson, executive director for security and business continuity at EEI, have been designated as the points of contact for Ramos for coordinating with the electric power industry on the mainland U.S.

Public power utilities on the ground in Puerto Rico

Several public power utilities have already sent crews to Puerto Rico to help with power restoration efforts. Four Florida utilities have sent crews: JEA, Kissimmee Utility Authority, Orlando Utilities Commission and Lakeland Electric.

The New York Power Authority also previously sent technical experts to Puerto Rico to support damage assessments and restoration efforts. The initial set of NYPA personnel that traveled to Puerto Rico in the wake of Maria has since returned to New York.

On Oct. 29, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted that his state was deploying additional utility crews and equipment to help restore power on the island.