SWEPCO prepares for Hurricane Gustav recovery

SHREVEPORT, La., August 29, 2008 – SWEPCO is preparing for electric power restoration efforts next week in the wake of Hurricane Gustav landfall sometime Tuesday. Hotels are being booked for additional line crew personnel, logistics such as fleet vehicle fuel stops and feeding arrangements are being made, and construction contractors and tree trimming crews are being held for emergency use in the SWEPCO service area.

“SWEPCO and AEP emergency restoration planners are preparing for Gustav impact, both internally and in coordination with other utilities, to gather resources and prepare for the restoration of potential electrical system damage,” said Paul Chodak, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer in Shreveport. “Staging areas, with food, water, housing, materials and supplies for over 1,000 workers are being prepared. We want to thank all the communities, companies and individuals in advance who are helping us in these preparations.”

This storm system is shaping up similar to the impact Hurricane Rita had on East Texas,  Northwest Louisiana and southern Arkansas on September 24, 2005. “Driving rain and high winds of 12 hours prevented our utility linemen from working safely on power lines and customer patience is appreciated until wind speed subsides enough for our employees to work as quickly and safely as possible,” said Chodak. Over 187,000 SWEPCO customers were without power at the peak of Rita and 98 percent of all customers had their power back on in four days. SWEPCO customers may go to the company’s website at www.swepco.com for outage preparation and safety tips.

SWEPCO will send its resources to aid other electric utilities as part of the mutual assistance agreement once its own customers have their power restored.  The company will focus on priority work in its service territory, and some non-critical projects may be delayed due to the emergency.

SWEPCO, a unit of American Electric Power, delivers electricity to 471,000 homes, businesses and industries in east and north Texas, Northwest La. and western Arkansas.

Scott McCloud (318-673-3532)