UI parent company sending people to help in Puerto Rico

Workers restore high-tension power lines damaged by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico. Photo: Getty

The parent company of our local power company is sending some of its staff to Puerto Rico to help rebuild the power grid.

AVANGRID is providing assistance to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico by deploying a Tactical Power Restoration Team specializing in the supervision of transmission and distribution system recovery. The AVANGRID team, comprised of employees from across many of its Northeast subsidiaries, including United Illuminating in Orange, will assist ongoing efforts to address the island's power crisis after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 as a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph.

Rebuilding the power grid has been a challenge, as seen on Thursday morning when a huge setback left over 80 percent of the island without power again. Around 60 percent had electricity restored until a major transmission line failed.

Marianne Sanchez, who said on CNN that her Rio Piedras neighborhood got power back just six days ago, wrote on Instagram, "This is a not too friendly reminder of how fragile our power system is."

Puerto Rico’s electricity provider, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), is receiving assistance from U.S. federal and state agencies, including the New York Power Authority (NYPA), to rebuild its power grid.

NYPA has contacted investor-owned energy companies, including AVANGRID, whose employees have volunteered to leave their homes and families for one month to work 16-hour days, seven days a week.

The volunteers are part of a 28-member Tactical Power Restoration team of technical experts consisting of engineers and supervisors who will work with PREPA. These experienced energy professionals will be dispatched in teams to seven regions in Puerto Rico to provide technical oversight in the work to restore the island's power grid. NYPA anticipates deploying additional waves of workers to backfill this initial team.

“It’s a familiar scenario for AVANGRID’s hardworking personnel who are regularly dispatched to assist with power restoration after storms throughout the Northeast. At AVANGRID, we know from experience how much it means to our customers to be able to restore electrical service as quickly as possible after a storm — and that urgency is particularly felt in Puerto Rico as the holidays approach,” said CEO James P. Torgerson. “That’s why we are pleased to offer assistance to ensure that when severe weather strikes — whether it’s in our territory or across the U.S. — there are sufficient personnel and resources to assist in recovery efforts.”

“I hope I can use my 30 years of experience with the company to help restore power and the quality of life for the residents of Puerto Rico,” said Eduardo DelMonte, an Operations Supervisor from Connecticut who will lead the second AVANGRID team. “The entire AVANGRID team will work tirelessly to provide guidance and technical assistance as the island rebuilds its grid while serving as ambassadors for a company that strives to make a difference in the lives of millions.”

The volunteers will join members of other energy companies for their 30-day assignment. The companies will remain staffed and ready to respond to any local events.

AVANGRID, Inc. is a diversified energy and utility company with more than $31 billion in assets and operations in 27 states.

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