In an effort to step up on-going power restoration and rebuilding efforts following the catastrophic destruction of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Ameren Corporation will deploy additional restoration workers to Puerto Rico in January.
St. Louis-based Ameren, which powers 2.4 million electric customers and more than 900,000 natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area, is sending nearly 75 line workers and additional support personnel as part of the effort.
Beginning a 2,000-plus mile journey, equipment from Ameren, including trucks and trailers, is expected to roll out of St. Louis and Maryville, Illinois, later this week.
The equipment will be headed first to Norfolk, Virginia, where it will be loaded on a barge along with supplies and resources from other utilities. Following the expected arrival of this restoration equipment in Puerto Rico in mid-January, Ameren is planning for its co-workers to be on the ground contributing to the relief effort shortly thereafter, as part of a contingent of 1,500 additional personnel arriving from the mainland.
With this new wave, the total number of power restoration workers in Puerto Rico will increase to more than 5,500.
“Working side by side with our electric industry colleagues from all over the country, Ameren is committed to powering the quality of life for the people of Puerto Rico, just as we are for the communities we serve,” Warner Baxter, chairman, president and CEO of Ameren Corporation, said in a statement. “While the challenges associated with the mission in Puerto Rico are unprecedented, our co-workers, who selflessly volunteered for this assignment, stand ready to safely tackle these challenges and accelerate the power restoration and rebuilding efforts for the citizens of Puerto Rico.”
Ray Wiesehan, Ameren’s vice president for corporate security and crisis management, said in a statement the island has been sectored into seven regions for purposes of the restoration. Ameren co-workers will work in the Carolina Region, located on the northeast coast immediately east of San Juan. Ameren personnel will work under the direction of incident management teams (IMTs) that were deployed to Puerto Rico Dec. 10 to support the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA’s) regional directors.
The deployment of additional crews represents the next phase in the mutual assistance response.
“Ameren will send crews for three weeks and rotate them, as needed, until completion of the work,” Wiesehan said in a statement. “It’s a difficult job, but our co-workers have the training and expertise to get the job done. Our focus, as always, will be working safely so we can restore power as efficiently as possible for the people of Puerto Rico.”