Cleco employees answer mutual aid
By: CARISSA HEBERT
Four trucks from the Ville Platte area are among the 45 employees of Cleco responding to a call for mutual aid near Memphis, Tennessee, to help restore 380,000 customers affected by the recent ice storm.
Bernie Mayer, lead line mechanic, was busy Thursday morning, January 29, preparing a crew to leave. He said preparing vehicles and packing for three weeks or longer was on their agenda. Of the four trucks preparing to make the trip, Mayer said one of his trucks was from the station in Bunkie and the other three were from Ville Platte.
Robbyn Cooper, public relations, said the crews were preparing to begin work Friday for E-on/us, a gas and electric utility company headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. She said the company served over 300,000 natural gas customers and almost a million electric customers in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Mayer said he understood there were broken poles, line transmissions down, trees down, etc. He wasn’t sure exactly how long they were going to be there or exactly where they were going to be working, but he said they were ready. He was hoping to be near South Haven, Mississippi, by evening Thursday for a briefing on the storm at 8 p.m. He was anticipating the crew being dispatched to a hard-hit area. The one thing he was going to miss, “rice and gravy.”
Cleco sent workers from Bunkie, Eunice, Franklin, Mandeville, Many, New Iberia, Oakdale, Pineville, Rosepine, Slidell and Ville Platte.
Cleco participates in the Southeast Electric Exchange Mutual Assistance program. Member companies have agreements to provide storm restoration assistance to each other. During Cleco’s Hurricane Gustav restoration effort, 390 mutual assistance workers helped restore power. In addition to the crews, Cleco released 50 of its contractors earlier in the week and coordinated fuel transportation for E-on/us.