Columbia linemen assist with power restoration in Texas

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | 8:27 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Eight Columbia Water and Light linemen left Monday for Texas to help restore power to the Houston area following Hurricane Ike.

Three trucks left at 10 a.m. Monday for CenterPoint Energy facilities, the country's third largest combined gas and electricity utility. The linemen were in Dallas at noon Tuesday and planned to arrive in Houston later that evening, said Connie Kacprowicz, Water and Light public information specialist.

Linemen for post-storm restoration are chosen on a volunteer basis.

"Six of the eight that went to Texas have volunteered for storm duty before," Kacprowicz said.

Kacprowicz said the linemen are expected to be in Texas for at least a week. However, Kacprowicz said, CenterPoint Energy anticipates the restoration effort may take up to three weeks. If CenterPoint Energy requests further assistance, Water and Light will consider extending the linemen's stay to two or three weeks.

The Missouri Public Utility Alliance organized the aid program to assist areas after widespread outages.

CenterPoint Energy had 3,000 workers restoring power and expected 4,000 more to arrive on Wednesday. The utility faces restoring power to 2.1 million of the utility's 2.26 million customers after Hurricane Ike swept through the region early Saturday.

As of 8 p.m. Monday, 588,000 customers — 31 percent — had power restored, a company news release stated.

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