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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Indiana utility workers aid in Florida restoration efforts

By: State Sen. Eric Koch (R-Bedford) and State Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso)

STATE - OCTOBER 29, 2022 - When devastation hits our country, Indiana utilities help our fellow Americans. This is because mutual assistance is a cornerstone of the utility profession, and Indiana’s utility workers answered the call following the destruction left by Hurricane Ian.

A critical step in the recovery period is the restoration of services – electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water and wastewater. This is a complex process that requires skilled workers, logistical planning and specialized equipment. That’s why when major disasters strike, utilities support one another.

Indiana State Senator - Republican Eric Koch from Bedford, Indiana

The utility industry has developed a robust voluntary mutual assistance network to provide aid during times of need. By sharing resources, industries can more quickly assess the damage and determine the best methods for repairing infrastructure. In doing so, restoration times are improved drastically.

More than one thousand Hoosier electric utility employees and contractors were deployed to assist with these efforts. Indiana utilities sent line and field workers, forestry experts, management teams and support staff. The work these men and women do is selfless. They leave their homes, family and friends for days or weeks at a time to work on the front lines to bring communities back online with essential services. This is challenging work that can often place them in tough conditions.

Another factor in restoration times is the investment made to harden the systems against extreme weather to ensure they are resilient. Electric utilities, for example, have been upgrading poles and wires, placing outage-prone lines underground, converting wood poles to steel in vulnerable areas, and installing smart technology that can automatically detect power outages and reroute power to restore service faster.

Those improvements combined with mutual assistance contributed to the fact that when Hurricane Ian knocked out power to more than four million customers in Florida and over 1.1 million in North and South Carolina, within days that number had been reduced to 391,000.

The work is far from over though, and companies will continue to send and rotate workers as needs are reassessed. The conditions in the hardest hit areas involve rebuilding, not just repairing, infrastructure. Regardless of the scale and difficulty of the work, when fellow Americans are in need, Hoosiers respond.

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