PPL Staging Area a Home Away from Home for Contractors

PPL hopes to restore power for up to 85 percent of customers by Friday night, thanks in part to new PPL best practices.


There are 500 beds set up in 15 tractor trailers warmed by giant generators. A dining hall that might not be as nice as Harry Potter's Hogwarts but is almost as big and able to accommodate 500 contractors is stationed at PPL's Hurricane Sandy staging area at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom.

This temporary command post stems from new PPL Corp. "best practices" that are helping organizers gain two hours of productivity from each 12-hour shift the restoration-response team works.

The streamlined restoration efforts are surely part of the reason PPL Regional Community Relations Director Melinda Stumpf has updated power restoration estimates to Friday night -- rather than the previous target of Sunday, Nov. 4.

"We hope to have 80 to 85 percent of customers restored by Friday night," Stumpf said. 

New "best practices" were made in response to last October's Snowmageddon. Donald Samala, PPL site manager at the Dorney staging area, said contractors use the site for everything from lodging to getting work orders.

Patch visited Thursday and got an up-close look at the dedication of PPL crews and the thousands of contractors who have come from as far away as Missouri, North Carolina, Alabama and Florida. 

In addition to the sleeping and dining areas, there are trailers equipped with showers and a laundromat, and a diesel tanker arrives about 10 p.m. to fill up all vehicles, thus eliminating the time it takes to stop at the gas station.

"PPL's goal during this restoration effort is to be able to cut travel time for out-of-town contractors in order to maximize the amount of time they can work," said Samala, of Upper Macungie.

About half the beds were filled Wednesday night and Samala, who also lost power thanks to Hurricane Sandy, expected they might all be taken by Thursday night because an additional 360 contractors were scheduled to arrive. There is a similar staging site set up in Wayne County.

PPL mobilized about 1,500 contractors prior to the superstorm and that number is expected to almost double by this morning (Nov. 2). And don't forget the hundreds of PPL employees. Samala said just about everyone at PPL, from accountants to engineers, have dropped their normal duties to work on getting power restored.

Most PPL customers have received restoration estimates for Sunday, Nov. 4, but the new influx of contractors might make Stumpf's new 85 percent a reality.

Customers are encouraged to sign up for PPL alerts. Stumpf said the company will contact affected customers when restoration work starts in their neighborhood. Only PPL account holders can sign up for alerts.

Samala and Stumpf both said they appreciate Dorney's generosity and the extra work South Whitehall Township and police have done to get contractors in and out of the area safely and quickly.

As of Thursday night, 8,573 South Whitehall customers had power restored and 6,948 were still in the dark. In North Whitehall, 5,253 had been restored and 1,401 were not.

slyfox November 02, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Yeah, thanks PPL for all you don't do for the people who pay you booko bucks for power. Thanks for being *prepared* to help. Yeah. Thanks for having all these people at your call. Funny though, not 1 truck has been seen. Funny. Glad you're all warm and snug. Thanks. Yeah thanks.
Beth November 02, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Thank you so much for all of the hard work by the utility companies and linemen. Not an easy task when dealing with so many customers. We are fortunate (and very happy) to have our power back.
Elsa November 03, 2012 at 10:35 AM
I am still w/o power and desperate to bring my husband home from the hospital but can't I have been told Thursday Friday and again today. I am sure they are working hard but I really hope today is the day.
Gerry Cozzolino November 03, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Thank you PPL and outside contractors. My power was restored by a contractor Friday afternoon. Repair people are out there in large numbers. While in Coop. I saw a convoy of over 15 pieces of equipment headed south. Later on I 78 I saw about 3 more such convoys. Each was headed by a PPL truck followed by outside contractors. Also I saw a convoy of just PPL trucks. After surveying the damage from the storm, I think PPL responce is extraordinary .
slyfox November 05, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Hi Gerry - good for you that your power was back on Friday. Very nice. However, those "convoys" you mention didn't do a damn thing but drive on by. If they passed a pole & lines that were down they kept on driving past. I saw them. I even tried to stop some & talk to them but they totally ignored me and never even looked my way - they knew I was there. PPL will certainly recoop their costs for this mess onto us. WE WILL suffer the consequences. You're grateful? Not me. Not even close. With all the bragging PPL did, the power should have been back on to the masses by the minimum of Thursday - not Friday, not Saturday, not Sunday. Even now there are people without power. Some great job PPL is doing - all they are doing is bragging and nothing is getting done. Are they going to reimburse me for all the fuel for the generator we used, the 3 days of lost wages and the gas needed to drive to get the generator fuel? What do you think? They should do that for EVERYONE. They certainly can afford to. I cannot. Yeah PPL. Thanks. Thanks a bunch.


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