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Local Georgia Power employees awarded for storm response

Bainbridge Georgia Power employees were recently honored with two awards commending their service to power customers at home and away from home after severe storms caused widespread power outages in 2012.

Edison Electric Institute (EEI) has honored Georgia Power with both of the association’s longstanding Emergency Response Awards — the Recovery Award and the Assistance Award.

Bainbridge area employees attended a luncheon Thursday, which was held in their honor to thank them for the hard work and dedication they put forth to achieve this award.

The 2012 Emergency Recovery Award recognizes the company’s efforts to restore power to its customers following fierce storms in Georgia last spring and summer. The 2012 Emergency Assistance Award honors efforts to help other electric utilities following the numerous summer storms, Hurricane Isaac in August and “Superstorm Sandy” in the fall.

Employees from the Bainbridge Georgia Power office also traveled to Arkansas this past December after a bad winter storm damaged power lines there.

“Georgia Power was faced with a major restoration effort following last summer’s extended period of severe weather,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “It takes strong commitment, advanced planning and great execution. Georgia Power responded with all three. They’re a great example for the nation’s electric power industry. I congratulate them.”

“The assistance award is an honor for Georgia Power and is well deserved by our employees,” said Georgia Power Area Manager Joe Truhett. “Our Bainbridge employees have spent many hours away from their families in severe conditions to restore power to our customers and those of our neighboring utilities. The recovery award also honors the employees that remained behind to keep the lights on at home.”

Several Bainbridge Georgia Power employees traveled to New York and New Jersey to help restore power following “Superstorm Sandy.” In addition to knowing they are helping others, employees said they enjoy seeing places they’ve never been before and meet new people.

Truhett said Georgia Power and its parent, Southern Company, are part of the Southeastern Electric Exchange, which has mutual aid agreements in place with other utilities around the United States. If a bad storm or natural disaster were to affect south Georgia, employees of other power companies would come help out here, he said.

“Often times, we get a call to have a team of employees ready to go to a storm-damaged area within 24 hours,” Truhett said. “Usually, we have several employees volunteer to travel. Their families are understanding that it’s just part of what we do. Without electricity, things can get pretty rough for people who have been affected by a storm.”

Considering the three events together, company storm teams comprising nearly 1,400 employees spent 41 days enduring hard work, difficult weather and often-challenging living conditions away from home. Almost half of that time was spent on the Hurricane Sandy restoration, which also represented the company’s largest deployment since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.