Burlington, VT – Vermont public power utilities, including Burlington Electric Department (BED), Stowe Electric Department (SED), and Washington Electric Cooperative (WEC), will be sending lineworker crews and bucket trucks to the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist in restoring the power grid that was destroyed as part of the devastation from Hurricanes Irma and Maria last month. The effort has been organized through the Mutual Aid Network of the American Public Power Association (APPA), the non-profit trade association for the more than 2,000 local- and state-owned electric utilities in the U.S. that collectively serve more than 48 million Americans.
Two-person crews from BED and SED will depart Sunday and drive the trucks to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The BED and SED teams represent two of approximately 15 line crews, supervisors, and mechanics from MA, CT, and VT public power utilities who will be deployed for approximately four weeks. Once in FL, the trucks will be loaded on a barge and ferried to the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). The crews will be flown from FL to the USVI to meet up with the trucks on Monday, October 16. While working in the USVI, lineworkers will be residing aboard a ship berthed nearby. After the first four weeks, the BED and SED line crews will return to Vermont and be replaced with their colleagues, two from BED and one each from SED and WEC. A WEC lineworker will work with an SED lineworker on SED’s truck.
Neale Lunderville, BED General Manager and Vermont’s former Tropical Storm Irene Recovery Officer, stated: “Vermonters understand all too well the devastation that comes with powerful and unrelenting weather events, and we know how to come together to rebuild. Similarly, at Burlington Electric, we understand what it means to take good care of community and hold up safety as our number one value. I’m proud that members of our lineworker team have volunteered to travel far away from their family and friends to help those in need on the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
Ellen Burt, SED General Manager, stated: “Stowe Electric Department is deeply honored to be chosen as one of the municipal utilities to respond to the aid of a fellow public power authority on the U.S. Virgin Islands. When we first heard about the devastation caused by these storms, our crews immediately volunteered to help. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who were affected by the recent hurricanes. We wish all of our crews from Vermont and the surrounding New England area a safe journey and a swift return home.”
Patty Richards, WEC General Manager, stated: “These are devastating conditions, but during times like this, we must all rise to the occasion and lend our assistance. Our employees will work long, hard hours. This is grueling and difficult work under regular conditions, and to include the extra stress of a hurricane-damaged landscape will make for very difficult restoration efforts. But this is what we do; we come to the aid of others in disasters, and it is our mission to get power back on line for everyone impacted. Electric utilities have a long history of sharing resources, and WEC is proud to participate and do our part.”
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