GRDA linemen will help restore power in Florida

This group of GRDA employees is headed to the Lakeland, Florida, area on Saturday morning, to provide power restoration assistance following the damage that Hurricane Irma is expected to leave behind. GRDA crews are going as part of a mutual aid agreement among the nation’s publicly-owned electric utilities.

Pryor — With Hurricane Irma expected to cause major damage across the state of Florida over the weekend, electric crews from all across the country stand ready to provide restoration assistance in the days and weeks ahead.

The Grand River Dam Authority is among the utilities that will send aid. On Saturday morning (September 9) a contingent of 30 GRDA linemen and support personnel are headed to the Lakeland, Florida area in a convoy of 20 vehicles. Their trip is in response to a nationwide mutual aid agreement among publicly-owned electric utilities, coordinated by the American Public Power Association (APPA).

At an “all hands” briefing Friday morning, at the GRDA Transmission Headquarters in Pryor,

While images of Hurricane Irma appear on the television screen overhead on Friday morning (September 8), GRDA Superintendent of Powerline Maintenance Chester Rothhammer briefs the powerline maintenance department employees who will make the trip to the Lakeland, Florida area, to help restore power following the damage the hurricane is expected to leave behind. GRDA crews are headed to Florida as part of a mutual aid agreement among the nation’s publicly-owned electric utilities.

GRDA Superintendent of Powerline Maintenance Chester Rothhammer told the group to make preparations for the challenges that lay ahead.

“We all need to take three days of food for ourselves. We need to take a bed roll or a sleeping bag and possibly a cot,” said Rothhammer, who was a member of the GRDA team that provided power restoration assistance in the Jacksonville, Florida area following Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

The crew’s goal is to stay clear of the storm but travel close to the area, so it can begin restoration efforts, as needed, by Monday, September 11. Once there, GRDA efforts will be coordinated through Lakeland Electric. Lakeland is located approximately midway between Tampa and Orlando, in central Florida. GRDA crews could be there for up to three weeks.

This mutual aid response to Florida comes on the heels of another GRDA hurricane response. Last week, five GRDA Police officers returned from Houston, Texas, where they assisted with water evacuations following Hurricane Harvey. As stated earlier, line crews also provided aid after Hurricane Matthew last year and, in 2005, GRDA also sent linemen to Louisiana to help with power restoration following Hurricane Rita.

“Our employees are well-trained, they put safety first and they will provide as much assistance as they can for as long as they are needed,” said GRDA Vice President of Corporate Communications Justin Alberty. “We’re proud to be a part of a nationwide public power organization that can assist each other in times of need. We know if we needed similar help here, our public power neighbors would provide it.”

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.