The Edison Electric Institute honored more than a dozen utilities whose service area fell in the path of destructive weather during 2012's storm season. Also honored were utilities that answered calls for mutual assistance during storm-related blackouts and service disruptions.
The Emergency Recovery and Emergency Assistance Awards are presented annually by EEI and recognize exceptional efforts in restoring electric service that has been disrupted by severe weather or other natural events.
A panel of judges chose the recipients following an international nomination process. EEI is the association of U.S. investor-owned electric utilities and industry affiliates and associates worldwide. Its U.S. members serve about 70 percent of the nation's electrical consumers.
The annual awards, which have been presented to EEI member electric utility companies since 1998, were issued yesterday at the EEI CEO meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.
The awards recognize utilities for their outstanding response in aiding other electric companies to help restore service to the public following a storm or natural disaster. Selections are based on a company's ability to respond to a crisis quickly, overcome difficult circumstances and utilize innovative service recovery techniques.
The following is a partial list of the utilities that EEI honored with awards, and a description of the outage restoration actions those utilities took during the past year:
EEI honored Northeast Utilities (NU), NSTAR's parent company, in recognition of the extraordinary work by NSTAR and other NU crews to restore electric service to areas that had been disrupted by the devastating weather conditions.
Close to 400,000 NSTAR customers lost service due to the powerful Superstorm Sandy at the end of October. Once restoration work for their own customers was completed, NSTAR crew members joined other Northeast Utilities employees in working around-the-clock to assist in the massive rebuilding and power restoration efforts in New York and New Jersey.
Along with sending its own workers to hard-hit states, NSTAR also joined fellow Northeast Utilities companies in sending a total of about 1,900 private line contractors who were previously assisting NU's repair efforts throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut.
NextEra Energy Resources
NextEra Energy's executive chairman Lew Hay also received EEI's Distinguished Leadership Award. Lew has previously served as chief executive officer of NextEra Energy.
In addition, the company's affiliated Florida Power & Light Co. received EEI's annual Emergency Assistance Award for helping restore power to areas of the Northeast devastated by Hurricane Sandy and the Super Derecho storm.
Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI) received an Emergency Assistance Award from Edison Electric Institute for outstanding service in 2012 for its assistance to other utilities and for its restoration after Hurricane Sandy on October 29.
Iberdrola USA subsidiaries Central Maine Power (CMP), NYSEG and RG&E each have won both the Edison Electric Institute 2012 Emergency Recovery Award and the Emergency Assistance Award for their restoration and support efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
The three utilities amassed more than 6,000 people to handle a cumulative total of nearly 500,000 electric service interruptions spread across Maine and New York. Once their own customers had been restored, the companies released nearly 1,800 line, bucket, pole-setting, digger, tree, gas and supervisory employees and contract workers to assist National Grid (LIPA), Consolidated Edison, Connecticut Light & Power and FirstEnergy utilities. NYSEG also supplied poles, transformers and natural gas regulators to ConEd for their restoration efforts in New York City.
Pacific Gas & Electric
In the days following Hurricane Sandy, PG&E sent more than 250 employees and 100 pieces of equipment to assist Con Edison and the Long Island Power Authority with restoration efforts in New York. Over two weeks, PG&E employees worked 16-hour days helping to restore power to thousands of customers in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Long Island.
"The electric utility industry, through EEI, has a long tradition of providing essential assistance to impacted utilities following natural disasters," said Tony Earley, Chairman, CEO and President of PG&E Corp. "I'm proud of the incredible effort that PG&E employees put in to restoring power to thousands of New Yorkers in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. This award is a tribute to the men and women of PG&E."
Hurricane Sandy was the most devastating storm in PECO's history, causing severe and widespread damage that resulted in outages for more than half the company's electric customers. The 2012 Emergency Recovery Award honors the efforts of more than 5,000 PECO employees and contractors — from as far away as Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and PECO's sister utilities ComEd in Chicago, Ill. and BGE in Baltimore, Md. — who worked around the clock to safely restore service to 99 percent of all customers within one week.
DTE Energy sent 250 employees and contractors to assist in the massive restoration efforts following the two significant weather events. Last June, a series of thunderstorms produced winds reaching 90 mph across the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, causing more than 3.7 million homes and businesses to lose power.
Then in October, Hurricane Sandy caused more than 8 million power outages across 24 East Coast states – the largest number of power outages ever caused by a single weather event.
ComEd received EEI's Emergency Recovery Award for power restoration efforts after a storm that hit northern Illinois on July 1, 2012, knocking out power to more than 375,000 customers. Additionally, ComEd received an Emergency Assistance Award for its support of East Coast utilities restoring power after Hurricane Sandy.
Following devastating storms in 2011, ComEd assembled a task force to assess every aspect of its storm response process and benchmark against other utilities and industry best practices. As a result, ComEd put in place more than 60 storm response process improvements, which cut restoration times by more than 15 percent during this past summer's storms.
Increasing first responders, using satellite technology and smart boards to more efficiently deploy and track response teams, deployment of a Mobile Operating Center that brings response teams to the hardest-hit areas, and embedding response planners within municipalities to more quickly identify and restore service to critical infrastructure are some of the changes that improved ComEd's storm response.
In addition, ComEd provided customers with new capabilities to report outages and receive outage status via two-way text messaging, a mobile app and a dynamic outage map on ComEd.com. ComEd also became the first in its industry to provide customers the ability to report an outage on Facebook.
In October 2012, ComEd sent more than 1,000 employees and contractors to assist its sister utilities, PECO in Philadelphia and BGE in Baltimore, with their restoration efforts following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Crews from ComEd worked for three weeks in four states in difficult and dangerous conditions to help local utilities restore power to more than 9 million residents affected by the storm.
Public Service of New Hampshire
About 137,000 PSNH customers lost service due to the powerful remnants of Sandy on October 29. Once restoration work for their own customers was completed, PSNH crew members worked in both Connecticut and in New Jersey, assisting residents in areas that were extremely hard hit by the devastating hurricane.
Connecticut Power & Light
Northeast Utilities, parent company of CL&P, was selected as a winner of the EEI 2012 Emergency Assistance Award, which recognizes extraordinary efforts undertaken in restoring electric service to another utility company that has been disrupted by severe weather conditions or other natural events.
Superstorm Sandy impacted all 149 cities and towns served by CL&P and in the days that followed, crews worked to restore power to more than 850,000 customers. In some areas, entire portions of the electric system were rebuilt, with over 1,700 new poles set and more than 100 miles of wire restrung.
Once restoration was complete in Connecticut, crews from CL&P, and other NU companies, supported the ongoing efforts in neighboring New York and New Jersey by sending line crews and field personal to restore power in those areas.
EEI honored Entergy Corp. for its work restoring power to its own customers following Hurricane Isaac and to customers of other utilities after Hurricane Sandy and last June's derecho weather event. This is the 15th consecutive year Entergy has received an EEI national storm restoration award.
Hurricane Isaac made the first of two landfalls near Plaquemines, La., on Aug. 28, 2012. The storm disrupted power for 769,000 customers and affected about 30 percent of the Entergy distribution system, 95 transmission lines and 144 substations. Based on customers out of service, Hurricane Isaac was Entergy's fourth-worst storm, after hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav.
The June 29, 2012, derecho, a severe straight-line wind event, was one of the most destructive and deadly severe thunderstorm systems in North American history. The powerful storm moved over 600 miles in about 10 hours, knocking out power to 4.2 million customers in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Entergy sent 415 company employees, plus contractors, to Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia for 15 days to help restore service to customers of Kentucky Power and Appalachian Power.
Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the southern New Jersey coast on October 29, pounding more than 900 miles of the Eastern Seaboard, from Virginia to Maine, with high winds, storm surge and heavy rain. At the peak, 9.6 million customers in more than 12 states were affected. Entergy sent 675 employees, plus contractors, to help customers of PHI, PECO, Public Service Gas & Electric and Consolidated Edison. The company also supplied workers to meet special requests for call center help, scouting teams and underground network personnel to assist in repairing the lower Manhattan underground electrical grid after it had been severely damaged by saltwater flooding.
In late October, Ameren Illinois and Ameren Missouri offered both electric and gas crews who worked more than 120,000 man-hours.
"What I remember most was the nor'easter that came through in the middle of the restoration and how it snowed all day. We worked hard all day in the snow to restore customers' electricity," said Billy Howle, lineman, St. Charles, Ameren Missouri. "What I found out the next day was Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois were the only utilities or contractors in our immediate area that worked that day. The host utility really appreciated that and so did their customers. It made us all feel really proud."
American Electric Power
AEP Ohio, Appalachian Power, Indiana Michigan Power and Kentucky Power received EEI's Emergency Recovery Award for their response to the June 29 super derecho storm, which crossed the eastern United States with heavy rain, hail and hurricane-force winds. Electric utilities experienced more than 4.3 million customers without power in 10 states and the District of Columbia, including the 1.4 million AEP customers affected at the storm's peak.
In addition, AEP was honored with EEI's Emergency Assistance Award for the efforts of more than 2,600 of the company's employees and contractors who assisted other utilities following Hurricane Sandy in October. During the restoration effort, about 50 percent of AEP's company and contract line resources were working to help restore power for other utilities. AEP crews primarily worked in New York, New Jersey and West Virginia.