Xcel Energy is sending approximately 65 line workers and support staff to Puerto Rico to help with the ongoing power restoration efforts on the island. Hundreds of thousands of customers remain without power nearly four months after Hurricane Maria made landfall.

Xcel Energy trucks left for Puerto Rico earlier in January, were loaded onto a barge at the port of Lake Charles, La. and are now on their way to the island. The company is sending about 50 line workers from the Upper Midwest, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico, along with additional safety and support staff after receiving the call to help sthe previous month.

“We want to assist the people of Puerto Rico and we are honored to be part of this restoration effort,” said Kent Larson, executive vice president and group president, operations-Xcel Energy. “This is a massive undertaking under difficult circumstances, but our crews are ready to bring power back on safely — it’s what we would do for our own customers and we want to deliver that same quality of service to our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.”

Xcel Energy crews are expected to work in Caguas, a mountainous and remote region in the southeast area of the island. This is where the storm came inland and the damage is significant. The crews will fly to Puerto Rico at the end of month and work with incident management teams that have partnered with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) on restoration efforts.

PREPA is working with members of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on damage assessment and a coordinated restoration plan. More than 20 electric companies, including Xcel Energy, are part of a coordinated, nationwide mutual assistance response that’s bringing nearly 1,500 additional workers to Puerto Rico. With these new workers more than 5,500 people will be part of the restoration efforts.

Xcel Energy is part of the Edison Electric Institute’s Mutual Assistance program. Following major storms that bring significant outages, electric companies use this program — a voluntary partnership of electric companies from across the country — to help speed restoration.

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Dunn County News editor

Barbara Lyon is the editor of The Dunn County News in Menomonie, WI.

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