WPS and We Energies extend deployment in Puerto Rico

We Energies and WPS crews working in bucket trucks in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Public Service)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Crews from Wisconsin Public Service and We Energies are extending their deployment by two weeks.

Officials say since the cost of deployment is so high, it's less expensive to keep crews there, rather than bring in new ones.

About 60 crew members have been working in the San Juan area since Jan. 13, and say power has been restored to about 71-percent of the country.

An estimated 1.4 million customers lost power on the island after Hurricane Maria barreled through in late September.

One hurdle for the Wisconsin contingent: nobody speaks Spanish, so translators had to be brought in.

Neighborhood layouts are also proving to be challenging.

"It's house bumped up against house. In a lot of cases you have to push a ladder up against the house, climb over it, put a ladder in the back of the house to climb down to get to the pole. We're sending poles with cranes over the top of houses," explained Craig Kahoun of We Energies.

Crews say the Puerto Rican people have been especially helpful and appreciative.

They've even cooked meals for the 60 workers who made the trip from Wisconsin, and have already invited crews back for a future visit to say thanks.

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