SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations Maj. Gen. Donald E. "Ed" Jackson visited Task Force Power Restoration at the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Jan. 4 to get an update on the mission and to meet team members.
Jackson told the task force that he and the people on the island he has met appreciate the employees for having left their homes during the holidays to do something 'above and beyond' that is really making a difference for Puerto Ricans impacted by hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devastated the commonwealth in September 2017.
"I just want to thank you guys for all that you're doing," said Jackson. "I know there are lots of challenges that you have, that you're working through, and we're committed at the headquarters level to help work through all of them."
The challenges of terrain, status of the grid before the storms and the sheer devastation caused by the hurricanes have made restoration efforts arduous. Despite the difficulties, the unified team of PREPA, USACE, industry and FEMA is making progress every day. Power generation topped 72 percent Jan. 3, while PREPA reports 55 percent, or approximately 808,500 of 1.47 million customers who are able to receive power have service restored.
The Edison Electric Institute announced Dec. 26, 2017, that its member investor-owned electric companies are sending more restoration workers and equipment by Jan. 12, while the Corps is increasing its capacity, all in a unified push to speed the effort to 'get the lights back on.'
"We've got great partnerships that we've established with a multitude of folks here on the island and within the interagency [family], and we're just going to continue to leverage those and draw on those, because this is a team effort," said Jackson. "Everything that we do to get this power back on is a team effort and requires everybody working well together."
During his visit, Jackson toured power restoration sites on the east side of the greater San Juan area where he observed Corps contractor crews working on transmission and distribution lines. He then attended the daily stakeholder coordination meeting led by Puerto Rico Power Restoration Coordinator Carlos Torres, FEMA Power Sector Chief Dr. Ahsha Tribble and Task Force Power Restoration Commander Col. John Lloyd.