Local News

N.C. utility workers head off to help in Texas

Posted September 12, 2008 1:47 p.m. EDT
Updated September 12, 2008 6:56 p.m. EDT

— Progress Energy has dispatched nearly 450 workers from North and South Carolina to help Texas utilities deal with expected damage and outages from Hurricane Ike.

Combined with 385 Florida workers, the team is the larger than the one deployed after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

"Having this mutual-assistance agreements in place has helped us and our customers many times over the years," Bill Johnson, chairman and CEO of Progress Energy, said. "Hurricane Ike is expected to cause widespread damage and power outages in east Texas, and our employees and contractors will be an important part of helping that area recover."

The workers will spend at least two weeks helping utilities get back into business after Ike passes. The teams include line and service crews, transmission-line technicians and support personnel, along with contract line and tree crews.

The cost of the deployment is borne by the utility that requests help.

Progress Energy will maintain enough crews to respond to any emergencies in North Carolina that occur during the deployment.

"We hope we won't need other utilities' assistance any time soon, but our customers can rest assured that if and when major storms affect our service areas, we will get assistance from our peers in other states."

Progress Energy Carolinas is a member of the Southeastern Electric Exchange, which deploys extra crews to other states during major storms.

“With all the coastline and area we manage in Florida and the Carolinas, we have a lot of experience in preparing for, and recovering from, major storms,” Johnson said. “We also learn from each deployment, and we use each as an opportunity to refine our own storm plan to make our response even better for our own customers.

"As always, our No. 1 objective is to have all of our people return home safely when their work is completed.”