Six utility companies were given the Edison Electric Institute's Emergency Assistance award recently in recognition of their outstanding efforts in assisting other electricity utilities to rebuild in the wake of hurricanes, ice storms and other natural disasters in 2005. EEI, the association of shareholder-owned electric utility companies, presents its Emergency Response and Emergency Assistance awards annually to both US and foreign-based member companies. Winners are chosen by a panel of judges following a national and international nomination process.

The 2005 winners were:

• Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power, which sent 382 employees and 1310 contract employees to assist four Gulf Coast utilities struck by Hurricane Katrina in late August.
• Cincinnati-based Cinergy Corp., which dispatched 421 line crew workers to assist Entergy Corp. in the wake of Katrina, September 2-October 18.
• Atlanta-based Georgia Power, which provided assistance following three hurricanes last summer – Katrina, Rita and Wilma. The utility sent nearly 1600 company workers and 1260 contract employees to assist not only sister Southern Company subsidiaries Alabama Power, Gulf Power and Mississippi Power but also Entergy and Florida Power & Light Co.
• Westborough, Mass.-based National Grid flew 73 line workers to Florida to help Florida Power & Light restore power in the wake of Hurricane Wilma.
• Progress Energy, based in Raleigh, dispatched 471 employees and 637 contract workers to assist utilities in Texas, Louisiana and Florida rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
• Dallas-based TXU Electric Delivery sent a total of 1,692 employees and contractors to Florida, Louisiana and southeast Texas to help local utilities recover from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

Each utility dispatching crews to aid other companies faced different challenges, some of which they had never before encountered, particularly in areas of the Gulf Coast where electricity infrastructure was utterly destroyed. All the crews faced the task of arranging for logistics, finding a bed to sleep in, and enduring the hardship of being away from families and homes for weeks at a time.
Presenting the awards, EEI President Tom Kuhn said that these companies, and the men and women who answered the call, represent the finest tradition in our industry.