PPL Electric Utilities says it is pouring more manpower into eastern Pennsylvania for a final push this weekend to repair the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy.
Approximately 600 additional line workers, now finished working in other areas of the PPL Electric Utilities service territory, arrived Friday and Saturday to supplement the existing army of repair crews. The additional crews bring the total work force in the eastern part of the state to 2,500.
While power is now restored to more than 85 percent of the PPL Electric Utilities customers affected by the massive storm, the utility’s commitment to getting the lights back on as safely and as quickly as possible until the last customer is restored will not waver.
“We continue to pull in crews that are finished in other areas we serve. To use a basketball term, this continues to be a full-court press,” said Dave Bonenberger, vice president of Distribution Operations for PPL Electric Utilities. “There is no letup in our efforts. For those who remain out of service, we ask for their continued understanding. This is an immense, time-consuming, labor-intensive effort.”
More than 382,000 customers have had service restored since Sandy hit Monday.
About 58,000 customers remained out of service across the utility’s 10,000-square-mile service territory as of 10 a.m. Saturday. About 28,000 of those are in the Lehigh Valley, 11,000 in the areas of Bucks and Montgomery counties served by the utility, and about 18,000 in the Poconos and other areas of northeast Pennsylvania.
The goal remains to get the lights back on for all remaining affected customers by 11 p.m. Sunday, though it is possible that small pockets of outages in places where crews are confronted with extensive work to remove trees and rebuild power lines could remain into Monday or Tuesday.
“The damage to our equipment in some places is severe. Crews are sometimes uncovering even more destruction when they arrive at trouble locations,” Bonenberger said.
Utility officials note that in these final days of power restoration, the number of customers restored by each repair job typically is smaller because the remaining damage spots affect very small pockets of customers, sometimes even a single customer. Bringing in hundreds of extra linemen will help the pace of that effort.
Utility workers from at least 10 different states, including PPL Electric Utilities’ sister utilities in Kentucky, are supporting storm damage restoration. Overall, about 6,000 people are supporting the restoration efforts, including about 3,500 in the field. The size of the field work force is the largest ever for PPL Electric Utilities for a storm, more than triple the existing PPL Electric Utilities’ normal physical work force.
Any customer who wants a restoration update can call 1-800-DIAL-PPL (1-800-342-5775) or check pplelectric.com. If an updated restoration time is available for that customer, it will be on the automated phone system or on the web. The utility’s outage web site is adapted for mobile phones.
Information on what the utility is doing to restore power, including a list of locations where customers can obtain free ice and water, can be found at www.pplelectric.com.
Customers are reminded to continue to stay safe, including avoiding downed lines and using portable generators. Safety information for customers is available at the company’s website, www.pplelectric.com.