Officials with the Grand River Dam Authority are increasing the organization's participation to help restore power in United States Virgin Islands (USVI).
In late December, 10 GRDA employees, including electric linemen, mechanics and vegetation management personnel, began the staging process in preparation to travel to the USVI to assist with the ongoing effort to repair the damage left behind by two category five hurricanes in September.
These employees will join two other GRDA linemen, who have been helping with the effort in the region since the first week of December.
GRDA crews are assisting in the USVI as part of a nationwide mutual aid agreement, coordinated by the American Public Power Association (APPA) and the USVI Water and Power Authority. Costs associated with the deployment will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“GRDA has a historic commitment to helping others in their time of need. We are honored to be able to provide this assistance at a time when there is such devastation in the Virgin Islands,” said GRDA Chief Executive Officer Dan Sullivan. "Our team of trained power professionals will make a positive difference in rebuilding the Virgin Islands' energy infrastructure and contribute to the important recovery process.”
This latest deployment is not the first time GRDA powerline crews have provided mutual aid following hurricane damage and according to Sullivan, GRDA employees are always willing to volunteer for restoration work when the need arises.
GRDA sent men and machinery to Florida after Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and again after Hurricane Irma, earlier this year.
In 2005, GRDA personnel also helped restore power in Louisiana following Hurricane Rita. In the USVI, they will join crews from several other mainland utilities in the restoration effort.
“Through this nationwide mutual aid agreement, public power utilities from all across the country continue to play a critical role in power restoration following natural disasters,” said Sullivan. “We’re fortunate that GRDA has the manpower and the expertise to do its part in the effort.
"At that same time, we are confident that the utilities now suffering from damage would also be here for us if the need arises. That is what public power is all about.”
It is anticipated that GRDA’s crew will be in the USVI a minimum of 30 days.