Two U.P. utilities join national effort to restore power to millions in Florida

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, more than 13 million people have been left without electricity in Florida. The Upper Peninsula Power Co. this morning sent eight linemen and a supervisor to assist with restoration efforts there, as crews from the Marquette Board of Light and Power arrived in Florida Monday night. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

MARQUETTE — Workers from two Upper Peninsula utilities are on their way to help restore power to storm-battered Florida residents.

This morning, Upper Peninsula Power Company sent eight linemen and a supervisor along with four service trucks and one pick-up truck to Tampa to support restoration efforts.

The Marquette Board of Light and Power also sent four linemen and two trucks to help restore power earlier in the week, according to an email from BLP representative Tom Carpenter.

Carpenter said BLP crews arrived Monday night in Fort Pierce, Florida, to assist the Fort Pierce Utilities Authority to restore its electric system.

“Currently that utility has 19,931 out of 28,300 customers out of power,” Carpenter said.

More than 13 million people statewide are without power after Hurricane Irma battered Florida Sunday and Monday, according to an Associated Press report today.

Utility officials fear it could take weeks to restore power to everyone. That’s why power companies from across the nation are stepping in, said UPPCO President of Business Development and Communication Brett French.

Workers from UPPCO offices in Munising, Houghton, Ishpeming and Escanaba volunteered for the relief effort.

“We understand the challenges being confronted by our Floridian counterparts as they attempt to restore power to their customers and we’re happy to assist,” French said.

French said the time it takes UPPCO crews to reach Tampa will depend on travel conditions.

“Obviously weather, traffic and fuel availability will all play a part,” French said. “There are a lot of logistics to consider.”

French said UPPCO line technicians will be joined by utility workers from across the country in the Tampa area.

“The power companies down there know what they need to get done, we are just sending bodies and equipment down to help with the effort. The local power companies will send our crews where they need to be,” French said.

French said the restoration efforts in Florida should not affect electric service in the local UPPCO service area.

“The restoration effort will not impact our customers as we have retained sufficient resources here at home to respond to inclement weather or other events that may affect our ability to deliver save and reliable energy to our customers,” French said.

Carpenter said BLP participates in a mutual aid program for electrical utilities that sets up a support network of utility professionals who can be called to help restore the electric system after large storms or natural disasters.

“Thankfully we had the ability to allow a crew of our linemen to be a part of that restoration process in Florida,” Carpenter said. “We are incredibly proud that they will be able to help get the power restored in a safe and timely manner.”

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is