April 23, 2020
Dear Kentucky Power customers,
Last week was one of the toughest weeks in a long history for Kentucky Power customers and employees. It is thought to have been more than a decade since so many customers were affected by power outages from a single storm in eastern Kentucky; but many more decades since the outages brought with it the level of damage we have observed over the past week. Many veteran employees vow this to be the worst storm destruction they have seen during their 40 plus year careers.
Late on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, more than 62,000 customers or nearly 40 percent of all Kentucky Power customers lost power in the matter of a few hours as high winds and rain ripped through the area causing severe damage to homes, businesses and especially electrical facilities. More than 318 poles had to be replaced, nearly 33 miles of wire were down, approximately 125 transformers had to be replaced, 15 substations had to be restored and multiple aerial assessments by helicopter took place to find damage in large transmission wires and structures. Bulldozers and other heavy machinery had to be used to make repairs and gain access to the damage. What was built over many years, took only minutes to destroy. This was no ordinary storm.
A company is nothing without its customers and the same is true for Kentucky Power. The safety and well-being of our customers was top of mind as everyone worked as quickly as possible to restore power. Our customers exhibited extreme patience during the restoration process showing strength and resiliency beyond measure. There were acts of kindness that overwhelmed our employees. Customers paid for food, offered prayers, cheered and waved as trucks went by and said thank you over and over again. But we are the grateful ones, and appreciate the understanding our customers showed during a very stressful time for them.
As the storm was still passing through, Kentucky Power employees immediately went into action with an all-hands-on-deck approach. Crews from our business partners arrived the next day to assist, while personnel from Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia traveled to eastern Kentucky to assist. More than 1,500 people stayed in the area for up to a week until electric service to every customer was restored.
These skilled men and women climbed mountains, fought chilly and rainy weather, ate very little and slept even less while at times being faced with rebuilding entire circuits that have stood the test of time for years. The seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic added extra challenges as extraordinary safety protocols were in place. Front line field employees and behind the scenes personnel worked long hours, finishing their days mentally and physically exhausted.
We owe thanks to our sister utilities in American Electric Power (AEP) and all of our business partner resources who left their regular jobs and families to assist with restoration. We are indebted to all of the county judge executives, mayors, legislators and their teams who worked alongside us for the duration. Emergency management teams and first responders helped clear roads, watched over hazardous situations and aided in traffic control, which enabled us to focus on power restoration.
We were able to restore everyone within seven days by using the Incident Command System (ICS), a very structured process used in emergencies. However, over the coming weeks, we will thoroughly evaluate our restoration practices to ensure we are even better prepared for the next storm. We encourage our customers to also prepare for power outages, visit our website for information and tips.
Thank you, stay safe and be well.
President and COO