Ky Power thank you shirts draw public praise for Puerto Rico work

ASHLAND, Ky., – A T-shirt designed as a small token of appreciation for Kentucky Power employees who assisted with power restoration in Puerto Rico is garnering attention and praise well beyond eastern Kentucky.

The shirt is adorned with the words, “We helped power Puerto Rico” and incorporates the Puerto Rican flag into the red, white and blue design. A companion shirt was created for children of employees and said, “My Dad helped power Puerto Rico.” Kentucky Power President Matt Satterwhite recently presented the shirts to 16 employees who made the trip to Puerto Rico earlier this year. Employees also received a photo memory book, hat and commerative coin. But it is the T-shirt that’s gaining attention. During a recent volleyball tournament in Florida, Satterwhite wore the shirt and the accolades were too numerous to count, he said.

“One person asked me, ‘Were you involved in helping Puerto Rico restore power? God Bless You!’” Satterwhite said. “I told her I wasn’t personally involved but as Kentucky Power’s president I authorized the real heroes to go down and do the hard work and that I wore the shirt because I am proud of the work they did in our company’s name. Another woman said to me, ‘I want to hug you’ and then tried through a crowd to give me a hug. The gratitude is overwhelming.”

Satterwhite was so touched by the comments, he shared the sentiments with employees in a recent email. “I wanted to make sure those employees who did the work received the proper thanks,” he said. “Not only did people share their heartfelt thanks, I also saw others pointing at me and smiling when they read the shirt. I wanted employees to know their work and the appreciation for it continues on, even while they are back home. Their hard work made a lasting impression.”

Kentucky Power sent two waves of eight employees each beginning in January. Crews worked 12 to 16 hour a day for 30 days. Kentucky Power was part of a larger American Electric Power team that participated in restoration efforts in Puerto Rico through the Edison Electric Institute (EEI). EEI is the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies. The teams supported the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). Kentucky’s team worked in the Caguas region of Puerto Rico, some of the more difficult terrain on the island.

“Our Kentucky Power employees work in some of the toughest terrain in the United States and have expertise that was especially needed in Puerto Rico,” Satterwhite said. “They are experts in making repairs in remote areas inaccessible by bucket trucks and have extensive pole climbing experience. Those are valuable skills.”

Hurricane Maria tore across Puerto Rico last September, knocking out power to virtually the entire island of 3.3 million people. The blackout is the worst in U.S. history. While most residents now have electricity, officials have said it could take nearly a year before service is restored to everyone. Repair efforts involving Kentucky Power and other companies was part of the mutual assistance program where utilities provide emergency assistance to other utilities on a not-for-profit basis. In this case, mutual assistance was provided to support PREPA. Expenses are not paid by Kentucky Power customers.

Kentucky Power, based in Ashland, serves about 168,000 customers in 20 eastern Kentucky counties and is an operating company of the AEP system. AEP, based in Columbus, Ohio, serves nearly 5.4 million regulated customers in 11 states.

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