Jacksonville, FL - JEA says it’s “nearing” the time for their workers in Puerto Rico to come home.
The first JEA crews- 41 linemen and personnel- got to the island October 7th, to help rebuild the power grid in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Those workers came home November 7th, the same day 45 other JEA linemen and support personnel took their place.
Now, just ten days after those crews got on the ground, JEA says it’s nearing the time for them to come back to Jacksonville.
“As JEA employees wrap up our work in Puerto Rico, we want to commend everyone for their extraordinary work over the past 45 days,” says a statement from JEA CEO Paul McElroy.
There’s no set timeline yet for when these crews will come back to Jacksonville, but JEA says they’re hoping that will be by Thanksgiving.
When the first crews were sent out back in October, JEA said they had committed assets for up to 90 days. The plan was to have three, three month rotations of personnel. Since that time, the $300 million contract managing the overall restoration efforts- which had been awarded to Whitefish Energy- was canceled. At that time, JEA told us they remained dedicated to making “meaningful contribution” to power restoration efforts, and they would work with whoever was ultimately designated to handle the greater project.
JEA tells WOKV they spoke with the parties currently organizing restoration efforts about staying. JEA says they were among the first ones the ground in the aftermath of Maria, and there are now more than 3,000 electric personnel and contractors in Puerto Rico, so they determined it was time for their employees to come home.
The Associated Press reported today that the director of Puerto Rico’s power company has also resigned in part because of the Whitefish contract controversy.
JEA says their crews have set more than 100 65-foot concrete poles and 80 70-foot steel poles, while also running 64 miles of transmission and distribution circuits.
“We would like to thank the residents for the warm welcome and encouragement as our crews worked in very difficult conditions to rebuild the electric infrastructure,” McElroy says.
It’s been about two months since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm. More than 20 of the island’s 78 municipalities remain without power. Large scale blackouts have also continued to take place.