After Irma, Florida Utilities Relied on WESCO to Restore Power

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In the days leading up to making landfall in Florida on September 10, Hurricane Irma was already making history as one of the largest, strongest, and most devastating storms ever recorded. WESCO’s Utility Group recognized that it would take an all-hands-on-deck approach for its Florida utility customers to restore power to millions of people when the storm was over.

Like they have done with hurricanes Harvey, Matthew (2016), and Sandy (2012), the Utility Group was ready to serve.

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WESCO Increases Inventory and Employee Resources To Support Utilities 

On September 1, Irma’s forecasted track indicated that the Category 4 hurricane would hit Florida. The Utility Group began their storm preparations. Anticipating customer needs, WESCO immediately increased the inventory of storm recovery items at the Orlando branch. This nearly doubled the regular inventory of those items at the branch.

The inventory was increased again when the utilities realized they would most likely be dealing with complete rebuilds in some areas versus only restoration events.

To manage the influx of inventory and respond quickly to the emergent customer orders they expected, the Utility Group recruited 18 employee responders from 15 states across the Utility Group to support Florida utilities.   

“The Utility Group made a commitment to serve our utility customers as a first responder. We harnessed all of our resources locally and nationally and we upheld that customer commitment in a big and powerful way,” said Russ Reynolds, Florida Regional Manager for the WESCO Utility Group.

Irma Makes Landfall and Restoration Begins

WESCO-HurricaneSuccessStory-BlogPost-02.jpg“The path that Irma took was the worst-case scenario. More than 4.4 million people were without power on Monday, September 11. Over the next 36 to 48 hours every utility in the state of Florida was impacted,” said Russ Reynolds, Florida Regional Manager for the WESCO Utility Group. “Florida utilities made arrangements for an estimated 40,000 to 45,000 additional resources from other states to help. This became the largest deployment of additional resources in the history of the utility industry.”

WESCO’s Utility Group was ready to serve Florida utilities and help restore power to the region.

Looking back on the timeline of events, Reynolds recalls, “The storm made landfall in the Florida Keys on Sunday, September 10, and on Monday, when the winds were reduced to 35 mph, the Orlando branch was operating with a skeleton crew.”

The branch was fully operational on Tuesday. Even though the majority of the Orlando team did not have power to their own homes, they dedicated their time to supporting the utilities. On Wednesday, the first wave of out-of-town responders arrived.

For 12 days, the Orlando branch operated from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. with two shifts supporting its customers’ material requirements. In total, 49 truckloads of material were shipped to customers in affected areas.

One WESCO Approach Key To WESCO Meeting Its Commitments

“Because of our pre-planning and our actions to increase the inventory prior to storm landfall, we were able to fill more than 90 percent of all customer shipments in the first pass — meaning, we had the majority of the material in stock at the Orlando branch,” said explained Todd Conte, Regional Director for the WESCO Utility Group.

Of WESCO’s nearly 500 branches, more than 40 are dedicated to serving the utility industry. This national footprint gives WESCO the ability to leverage additional resources, inventory, supplier support, and corporate resources to deliver whenever and wherever a utility needs it. 

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“WESCO is viewed by our utility customers as first responders with an obligation to serve,” said Reynolds. “Our collective actions and performance supporting the Irma restoration efforts have demonstrated that we live up to our commitments.”

Learn more about WESCO Utility and how WESCO can be a partner for investor-owned utilities, public power, and utility contractors.