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APS sending crews to Puerto Rico for more post-Maria power repairs

APS trucks are shown on their way to Puerto Rico. (APS Photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona Public Service said Tuesday that it would send crews to Puerto Rico to continue to help the U.S. territory restore its power grid after Hurricane Maria hit in September.

The utility will send a total of 50 employees to the island over the next two weeks.

“APS did not hesitate to answer the call for help,” Jacob Tetlow, APS’s vice president of Transmission and Distribution Operations, said in a release. “Our team is working to support the people of Puerto Rico because it is the right thing to do.”

Spokeswoman Annie DeGraw said the crews were being sent as part of a mutual assistance program.

“APS responded after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and, last year, we went to California as part of a mutual assistance effort,” she said. “We’re very, very familiar with this and we’re very happy to help the citizens of Puerto Rico.”

More than 5,500 other workers were already on the island working to restore power that, for some, has been out for more than three months.

Arizona’s other large utility, Salt River Project, sent crews to help in early December.

Officials said 55 percent of the nearly 1.5 million customers have power, marking the first time the government has provided that statistic since Maria hit on Sept. 20 with winds of up to 154 mph. Officials had previously reported only power generation, which stands at nearly 70 percent of pre-storm levels.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello had pledged 95 percent power generation by Dec. 15, while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said the entire island will have power by May.

KTAR News’ Ali Vetnar and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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