WEEK 2 UPDATE: SRP Teams Direct Puerto Rico Power Restoration

SRP’s eight-man team continues to work on directing restoration efforts in the Carolina region of Puerto Rico, along with three team members from Austin Energy.

Video: SRP Section Supervisor Mike Runzo describes how being in the community helps them understand the work that needs to be done. “Getting a good look at how it’s affecting some of the people out in the communities…watching folks try to work through this makes you feel good about helping,” said Runzo. 

The team had heard in advance from coworkers, relatives and friends that the damage to the island was extensive, but it has been worse than what they’d seen on the news — even three months after the hurricane.

“It’s a beautiful island, but it’s been beat up and through a lot. It’s amazing to see so much damage. When we flew (into San Juan) our plane landed at night and there was a lot of darkness, but the people here are resilient,” said Dorian Speed, SRP supervisor of Distribution Design. “It’s a blessing to be here and do all we can to help them, and SRP is allowing us that opportunity.”

Team APPA continues to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, contract crews and the local utility PREPA to direct power restoration crews.
Team APPA continues to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, contract crews and the local utility PREPA to direct power restoration crews.

“To see the damage, the number of power poles still down, the number of towns still out of power is surprising,” said Bret Marchese SRP director of Distribution Maintenance. “It’s been a huge learning curve. We have had to get to learn and know the people, the processes, and understand the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, contract crews and how everyone works together as one team, with one mission through the incident management team.”

SRP Section Supervisor Tony Esqueda
SRP Section Supervisor Tony Esqueda’s days are spent in the field or the Incident Management Team (IMT) command center at the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) Carolina office.

Led by Marchese, the SRP team is overseeing damage assessments, planning, scheduling and working alongside PREPA to restore power as safely and quickly as possible. The team is also working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and contract crews.

SRP Engineer Rick Hudson and Austin Energy's Danny Ee.
SRP Engineer Rick Hudson and Austin Energy’s Danny Ee.

“It’s been hectic with a lot of unknowns, but I just think how difficult it must be for the people of Puerto Rico without power for so long,” said Victor Guerrero, an SRP regional warehouse manager.

Guerrero and a PREPA counterpart plan how to address an issue.
Guerrero and a PREPA counterpart plan how to address an issue.

The team’s 14-hour days aren’t without a few breaks for fun. PREPA staff joined the team to share Diamondbacks and Cardinals gear brought over by the SRP crew. This cheered the staff, many of whom return to homes without power at the end of the day.

PREPA team takes a rare break to boost morale at the command center.
PREPA team takes a rare break to boost morale at the command center.

Marchese said their role is to do whatever they need to get the power restored and create efficiencies.

“I think we’ve made a lot of progress in getting information together to put the right resources in the areas where they are most needed and restore circuits as quickly and safely as possible,” Marchese said.

SRPconnect

SRPconnect

SRP delivers high-value electricity and water for the benefit of our customers, shareholders and the communities we serve. We are a community-based nonprofit utility and the largest provider of electricity in the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area, serving more than 1 million customers. We also are the largest provider of water to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, delivering about 800,000 acre-feet annually to agricultural, urban and municipal water users.

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