SOURCE: Green Mountain Power

Green Mountain Power

October 31, 2012 18:03 ET

GMP Shifts Focus to Helping Other States as End of Vermont Cleanup Nears

COLCHESTER, VT--(Marketwire - Oct 31, 2012) -  As Green Mountain Power crews restore service to the last Vermonters left without power by the remnants of Superstorm Sandy today, the company is making plans to send GMP employees to help bring the power back on in devastated areas in the Northeast.

One out of every five GMP customers experienced outages during the superstorm. Power has been restored to 48,358 of 48,408 affected customers, with the remaining 50 customers expected on this evening.

"We'll quickly transition from taking care of our customers to helping those in other states who are facing days or weeks before power is restored," GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said. "We are thankful we were able to quickly restore service to our customers, and happy to be able to help in areas that suffered severe damage. As others came to our aid this week and following Tropical Storm Irene, we will do whatever we can to help people hit hard by Sandy get back on their feet."

GMP is sending a group of 70 employees, including line workers and support staff, to assist other utilities in the northeast. The exact locations will be determined during a 6:00 p.m. call of the Northeast Mutual Assistance Group. The company has also connected contract lineworkers and tree trimmers with other utilities that need help, and coordinated the transition of mutual aid crews who have helped in Vermont to now help in other states.

"Even as we were putting power back on in Vermont, we've been making plans to shift our resources to other areas in need," Powell said.

"GMP did an extraordinary job planning for and repairing the damage caused by the high winds that blew through Vermont, knocking down trees and power lines," Governor Peter Shumlin said. "Their preparation ensured there were enough resources to complete repairs quickly, and that means they can now provide critically needed assistance to our neighbors, who still face serious hardship and enormous challenges."

Powell, who has participated in daily calls with the Department of Energy and CEOs of dozens of affected utilities, said the relationship between utilities is strong. "Much like local fire departments, utilities work incredibly closely when the chips are down," Powell said. "We have benefited in the past two days from those close ties, and now we'll help those who are in even greater need."

Powell praised employees who planned for the storm starting a full week before its arrival, which she said was critical to the company's ability to make repairs to more than 900 separate incidents in short order.

"While Vermont was not hit as hard as some other states, a storm affecting 20 percent of our customers is a significant event, but good weather forecasting, solid preparation and determined employees helped us make short work of the restoration," Powell said.

Sandy's remnants arrived Monday in Vermont, with winds building through the day and night and continuing through much of Tuesday. Wind gusts of over 50 mph hit portions of GMP's service territory, with gusts over 70 mph measured in Searsburg.

Crews from Burlington Electric, Ludlow Electric and Johnson Electric helped Green Mountain Power in its restoration effort, along with crews from Hydro-Quebec and contractors from as far away as Ontario, Colorado, Florida, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California.