Electric Companies Deploy Nationwide Response to Restore Power

An army of more than 53,000 utility workers from around the country, and as far away as Canada, California and Washington state, is joining forces to begin the arduous task of restoring electricity to millions of Americans whose power was interrupted by Hurricane Sandy’s massive wake.

Washington, D.C.—An army of more than 53,000 utility workers from around the country, and as far away as Canada, California and Washington state, is joining forces to begin the arduous task of restoring electricity to millions of Americans whose power was interrupted by Hurricane Sandy’s massive wake.

President Obama spoke to Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, EEI President Tom Kuhn and representatives from utilities and Regional Assistance Groups from the White House situation room. The intent: to “eliminate any bureaucratic roadblocks” that utility companies’ and their crews are encountering to delay the power-restoration effort, and identify steps that will expedite it.

Underground wires and power equipment in New York City and Newark, NJ, were especially hard hit by Sandy, as seawater penetrated equipment and substations. This creates an unusually daunting challenge for repair and power restoration because all of the components must be cleaned, dried and tested before the equipment can be re-energized.

Flooding destroyed utility distribution network equipment throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, including substations, transformers, control panels, poles and wires, and must be fully replaced or repaired before electricity is restored. Sandy’s record-breaking storm surge – an excess of 14 feet – broke records set in 1821. An estimated 6-million customers are still without power.

The challenges that remain for utility workers are enormous. Responders on the ground have been working tirelessly from the time before Hurricane Sandy made landfall, and now must clear fallen trees, sand, debris and water before they install and replace equipment.

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