Kentucky Power to assist with Hurricane Irma restoration efforts
Kentucky Power crews in Hazard prepare to leave for Florida.

ASHLAND, Ky. – After eastern Kentucky escaped the remnants of Hurricane Irma with little effect on Tuesday, Kentucky Power crews and contractors began making their way south to assist with restoration efforts in Florida.

About 150 employees and contractors will assist Florida Power and Light, Duke Energy and Tampa Electric Company in restoring electric service to millions of customers who lost power after Hurricane Irma made landfall and moved across the state. Kentucky Power contractors Asplundh Tree Experts, Wright Tree Service and Davis H. Elliott will join Kentucky Power employees in the mutual assistance effort in Florida. They are leaving eastern Kentucky from Ashland, Hazard and Pikeville in two waves. The first wave left Tuesday, while the second will leave early Wednesday. Some Asplundh employees departed earlier on Sunday.

Those working with Duke and Florida Power and Light will get their assignments once they arrive at a mass staging area in Florida. Those working for Tampa Electric Company will work in the Tampa Bay area.

“Hurricane Irma hit while nearly 100 of our employees and contractors were assisting with restoration efforts in Texas following Hurricane Harvey,” said Kentucky Power President Matt Satterwhite. “We wanted to help because the industry relies on us cooperating with our peers and providing support at times like this. But we also wanted to be cautious before sending additional personnel to help in Florida until we knew how the storm would affect Kentucky. We take our local responsibility seriously and wanted to ensure we had staff to take care of the homefront.”

The Kentucky Power contingent is among about 1,870 that American Electric Power is sending from all of its operating companies, including Kentucky Power. The assistance is part of the mutual assistance program. Under this voluntary partnership of investor-owned electric companies, utilities commit to help restore power when assistance is required during major outages. The decades-old program allows electric companies unaffected by a major event, such as in a hurricane or snowstorm, to provide help to those in need. Mutual assistance allows electric companies affected by a major event to dramatically increase the size of their workforce by effectively borrowing highly skilled employees from those unaffected by the outage. The receiving companies pay the expenses of the traveling outside crews, not Kentucky Power customers.

“Mutual assistance is an essential part of the electric power industry, which allows each utility to respond quickly at times of natural disasters or other emergencies that lead to significant damage to the energy grid,” Satterwhite said. “The loss of power in this or any disaster really stresses the value of electricity and makes it a lot easier for people to understand the value of the services we provide. We are vital to living in America.” Kentucky Power, based in Ashland, provides service to about 168,000 customers in all or part of 20 eastern Kentucky counties. It is an operating company in the AEP system.

Kentucky Power crews in Hazard prepare to leave for Florida.

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