The Edison Electric Institute has awarded Alabama Power its prestigious Emergency Response Award for the company’s rapid response to last year’s Hurricane Zeta and for helping others following this year’s Winter Storm Viola.
EEI is the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric utilities. Presented to EEI member companies, Emergency Response Awards recognize the recovery and assistance efforts of utilities following service disruptions caused by extreme weather or other natural events. Winners are chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process. The awards were presented Tuesday during EEI’s board of directors meeting.
“Alabama Power and its employees went above and beyond for customers and communities impacted by Hurricane Zeta and Winter Storm Viola, and they are exceptionally deserving of this outstanding award,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn.
Zeta struck the coast of Louisiana in late October as a Category 2 hurricane and then roared through Alabama, knocking out service to nearly one-third of Alabama Power customers, from the Gulf Coast to east Alabama. The impact of the storm was similar to what the company experienced during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the April 27, 2011, tornadoes.
More than 5,000 lineworkers and support personnel from 19 states and Canada joined Alabama Power crews to help restore service amid difficult conditions.
Months later, in mid-February, it was Alabama Power crews who mobilized to help others after Winter Storm Viola brought frigid temperatures, snow and ice from the Southwest to the Northeast. The storm hit Texas especially hard.
After the company confirmed that Alabama Power customers were in good shape, more than 300 Alabama Power lineworkers and support personnel traveled to east Texas to assist Oncor in restoring power to its customers. In the first two days alone, Alabama Power personnel strung more than 300 spans of wire and replaced 22 poles and 25 transformers.
Investor-owned utilities in the U.S. typically help each other when major disasters strike under longstanding mutual assistance agreements.
“Many EEI member companies experienced historic storms and other significant weather-related events in recent months that left customers without power,” Kuhn said. “Mutual assistance is a hallmark of our industry and is critical to ensuring a safe and efficient restoration.
“Crews worked around the clock and often in the most dangerous of conditions to assess damage and to restore power safely and as quickly as possible. They did all of this during a global pandemic,” Kuhn said.
“We are proud to be recognized for our storm response efforts and commitment to serving our customers,” said Corey Sweeney, Alabama Power Storm Center Operations manager. “Our employees take great pride in helping others and doing their job safely.”
EEI’s U.S. utilities provide electricity to more than 220 million people in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. EEI also has among its members more than 65 international electric companies, with operations in more than 90 countries.