AEP-PSO workers helping in superstorm region exceed 400
BY JOHN STANCAVAGE World Business Writer
Saturday, November 03, 2012
11/03/12 at 4:59 AM
The number of employees on loan from AEP-PSO to help Northeast utilities repair storm damage grew to more than 400 Friday.
About 25 field workers and support personnel left Tulsa at noon Friday to join 375 other Oklahoma workers in Virginia, West Virginia, New York City, Long Island and other locations.
Some of the employees were sent as long ago as Sunday as Hurricane Sandy approached the East Coast.
"This is a record number of resources deployed for us in an assistance effort," said Tony Hyer, manager of distribution system for the Tulsa district of American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma.
Included in the crews are line workers, assessors, forestry contractors, dispatchers, fleet personnel and safety reps.
Prior to Sandy, the largest assistance crew provided by PSO was about 175 workers following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Hyer said the benign weather conditions in Oklahoma and good long-range forecast in the state played a part in the decision to send so many employees.
Most of the workers on the trip are from Tulsa, McAlester and Lawton.
"They were eager to volunteer for the duty," Hyer said in a telephone interview from his Tulsa office.
The largest crew is helping PSO's sister utility, Appalachian Power Co., primarily in Virginia. Others are loaned out to non-affiliated utilities such as Consolidated Edison in New York and the Long Island Power Authority.
Workers have had to battle tough, changing conditions, Hyer said.
"First there was a blizzard and high winds," he said. "Now, it's warming up and there's a lot of mud, which with the hilly terrain makes it difficult to get to job sites."
Hyer said that despite the many dangers of the work, including the damaged electrical lines, weather conditions and unfamiliar equipment, the AEP-PSO crews have performed so far without a serious incident.
They also have been productive. When the Oklahoma crews arrived, Appalachian Power had 182,000 customers without electricity. By Friday afternoon, that number was down to less than 30,000.
Many of the crews could remain on site through Nov. 19, Hyer said.
In a related effort, Houston-based Phillips 66 said it sent one employee from Ponca City and another from Bartlesville to help with storm-repair efforts in New Jersey.
Phillips planned to open its Linden, N.J., terminal on a limited basis Friday. Power also has been restored to its 238,000 barrels-per-day Bayway Refinery in Linden, but the facility remains closed, the company said.
AEP-PSO storm assistance
Crew member breakdown
- 121 at Appalachian Power
- 123 at Long Island Power Authority
- 57 at Consolidated Edison
- 81 at First Energy
- 20 at other utilities
Original Print Headline: More AEP-PSO crews head to Northeast
John Stancavage 918-581-8314
A utility crew works on damaged power lines in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy in Berlin, Md. More than 400 AEP-PSO employees are on loan to power companies in the Northeast as they work to restore power. ALEX BRANDON/Associated Press