Progress Energy Florida crews and contractors are returning home after completing their work in East Texas. Crews from Florida assisting Entergy Texas following Hurricane Ike were released on Monday and will arrive in Florida late tonight. They leave Texas with the respect of their partner utilities and the appreciation of a state that is only now beginning to recover from the effects of Hurricane Ike. Crews were deployed for 10 days.
Despite the difficult work and being away from home, the 250 employees and 120 contractors remained in high spirits and safety was a top priority of all involved. The professionalism of Progress Energy crews shined through in Conroe. The local utility, residents and community leaders lauded their efforts.
"Progress Energy was eager to assist in Texas. By building these relationships we ensure that help will be available in the future when it is needed here in Florida." said Jason Cutliffe, Progress Energy Florida's system storm coordinator. "Our number-one objective was to complete restoration and return home safely. Thanks to the hard work of these dedicated crews power was restored without incident to thousands hit hard by Hurricane Ike."
Progress Energy crews restored more than power to the community. After learning a local bar owner, who fed crews hot meals, had a granddaughter in need of a wheelchair, employees donated nearly $3,000 to help out.
Progress Energy president and CEO Jeff Lyash is proud of the work the crews did and of their generous spirit. "Our crews wanted to help and reward the generosity of folks who showed them such wonderful hospitality," he said. "It's the right thing to do. I couldn't be more pleased with the work our employees do each and every day, whether it's in Florida in their everyday jobs or across the country helping others in need."
Progress Energy Carolinas crews are still deployed. Some areas of Texas remain without power as restorations move to increasingly smaller, less accessible outages. Additional reinforcements from other utilities are expected to be reassigned this week by Entergy to assist another Texas utility, CenterPoint, with restorations in the Houston area. CenterPoint is expected to begin crew releases as early as this weekend.
Progress Energy is a member of the Southeastern Electric Exchange (SEE), a group of investor-owned electric utilities. Utilities in the SEE support each other as needed after major storms. Crews working in support of other utilities' restoration efforts are paid by the utility requesting service. Progress Energy customers will not bear any of the cost of the assistance.
When combined with those from the company's sister utility in the Carolinas, 815 Progress Energy personnel supported Hurricane Ike restoration efforts. This effort was larger than deployments made in support of utilities in Louisiana and Texas after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
Progress Energy and its customers also have benefited from the company's SEE membership after major storms, with crews and contractors from numerous other Southeastern utilities coming to the Carolinas and Florida to assist after hurricanes and winter storms, including the major hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004.
Progress Energy is a six-time winner of industry storm-response awards from the Edison Electric Institute.