Ever seen a caravan of linemen with bucket trucks heading towards a disaster site, in the opposite direction that everyone else is driving? It’s not because they’re lost or searching for an adrenaline rush. It’s because they’re part of a program that helps electric companies turn the lights on more quickly after a natural disaster. In preparation for emergencies, electric companies have mutual assistance agreements with other companies that allow them to increase their workforce by “borrowing” restoration workers to help respond to areas impacted by a major outage event.
During routine outage events, utility companies in the United States use their own crews or contractors to restore power. In the event of a major storm, however, the task of restoration is so huge that outside help is needed. Entergy partners with other utilities in mutual assistance agreements that lend a hand to each other if called in during widespread outage emergencies. Mutual assistance companies meet annually to strengthen their partnership. Entergy currently participates in four different mutual assistance organizations.
As witnessed during recent natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, mutual assistance agreements are critical in the restoration process. Entergy has already sent hundreds of linemen from Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi to help restore power to neighboring communities in Florida. And this isn’t the first time we’ve sent crews to assist our neighbors.
After Hurricane Matthew impacted the southeastern United States, Entergy crews devoted more than 38,528 hours to help restore service in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina through mutual assistance agreements with utility companies like Duke Energy Florida and Carolina, Florida Power & Light, Georgia Power and South Carolina Electric & Gas. Our crews were able to help provide assistance because we had prepared before the storm.
"When there’s a storm in the Gulf of Mexico, that’s not the first time to be thinking about how you’re going to restore power,” said Mike Vaughan, Entergy’s system storm incident commander. “We follow a very detailed, rehearsed plan that has worked well for us during storm recovery.”
Entergy serves areas that are prone to some of the most severe weather in the United States: ice storms, tornadoes, violent thunderstorms and of course, hurricanes. To combat those and other perils, we have a plan of continuous preparation, training and action. We call that plan Operation: Storm Ready.
Entergy plans restoration efforts months before the first sign of foul weather.
“We have mutual assistance agreements in place with utility providers in nearby states to help us to build the needed work force to get your lights back on as safely and quickly as possible,” Vaughan said.
September is National Preparedness Month, and we’re joining Ready.gov in preparing our communities.
Remember, disasters don’t plan ahead. You can.
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