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Energy Companies Contribute Millions, Dispatch Crews to Help Hurricane Victims

Energy companies that were either directly or indirectly affected by the destruction from Hurricane Katrina were contributing millions of dollars to the American Red Cross last week to fund relief efforts. Utilities across the national also were sending or had already sent crews to help rebuild the energy infrastructure along the devastated Gulf Coast.

ExxonMobil Corp. contributed $7 million for disaster relief to the Red Cross in the aftermath of the hurricane. The Irving, TX-based producer and refiner, along with affiliates and its joint venture, Chalmette Refining, also created an assistance phone line (877 294-8617) for employees who have been displaced from their homes by the hurricane to receive assistance.

Chevron Corp. said it committed $5 million to support recovery efforts in the communities affected by the hurricane, including $3 million to the American Red Cross for disaster relief efforts in Louisiana, Mississippi and other affected areas, and $2 million to local charities and relief efforts near Chevron businesses in the affected states.

Chevron, which has about 3,000 employees in the areas hardest hit by Katrina, also has set up a toll-free number, (800) 334-3963, for its employees in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to alert the company about their status. The company has production operations in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf of Mexico, and refinery operations along the coast.

Producer Shell Oil and refiner Motiva Enterprises LLC said Friday they will dedicate $2 million to the American Red Cross and will match employee donations up to another $1 million. Shell reported that it also was providing its affected employees and their families with a broad range of resources and services to assure their care at this time.

Refiner and producer Amerada Hess Corp. said it donated $1 million to the Red Cross, and agreed to match individual employee donations to the Red Cross for use in responding to the tragedy. Los Angeles, CA-based Occidental Petroleum also contributed $1 million to the Red Cross, and said it will match all individual employee donations to the Red Cross.

Houston-based Total S.A. last week said it committed $1 million to the American Red Cross for relief efforts in the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, where it has several energy operations.

Energy giant Duke Energy, through The Duke Energy Foundation, reported it committed up to $200,000 to the American Red Cross for relief efforts. The foundation will contribute $100,000 to the Red Cross, and has set aside another $100,000 to match donations made by Duke Energy employees and retirees through the end of September. Duke Energy has natural gas pipelines operations in the affected region.

And New Jersey Natural Gas, the principal subsidiary of New Jersey Resources, said it pledged $10,000 to the American Red Cross for relief efforts. The Shaw Group Inc., which provides technology, engineering, construction and other services for the energy industry, noted that it will match cash donations made by its employees to the Red Cross, United Way or other appropriate organizations providing relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) of Newark, NJ, last week pledged to match employee and retiree contributions up to half a million dollars. It said the gift, one of the largest in the energy company's history, has the potential to amount to $1 million in aid to the Red Cross, Salvation Arm, America's Second Harvest and a yet-to-be-named nonprofit organization..

Meanwhile, a number of utilities throughout the nation, including American Electric Power (AEP), Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Baltimore Gas and Electric (BG&E) and Ameren, have sent or are sending workers to the hurricane-ravaged Gulf states to help rebuild electric systems and restore service to the more than 2 million homes that are without service.

Columbus, OH-based AEP reported its dispatched 1,506 employees and contractors to assist with power restoration and infrastructure repairs in the areas hardest hit by Katrina."Our employees and their counterparts representing other utilities are operating in very difficult conditions. Some have been sleeping in their trucks. Logistics for food and water are still being worked out and communications in many areas is poor at best. Our crews may be away from their families for a lengthy period," said Carl English, president of AEP Utilities.

In addition to the utility crews, AEP said its river operations unit has assisted in the evacuation of people from New Orleans. Tugboats from AEP last week were ferrying evacuees who were stranded in the submerged city to dry locations on the opposite side of the Mississippi River, the company said.

St. Louis, MO-based Ameren said it sent 300 utility and contract workers to assist Entergy in New Orleans, which provides electric service to customers in the affected states of Louisiana and Mississippi. The company also noted that it will match contributions made by Ameren employees from Sept. 2 through Oct. 17 to the United Way, Salvation Army and Catholic Charities.

PSEG's utility subsidiary Public Service Electric and Gas last week deployed some 90 electric delivery workers and two dozen work vehicles to help restore power in the Gulf region. The utility said it will concentrate its initial restoration efforts in Mobile, AL, in response to a call for help from Southern Co.

San Francisco-based PG&E has offered to send electric, gas and transmission tower construction crews, along with vehicles and equipment needed to help restore electricity and natural gas service. Utilities in the three hardest hit states were expected to let PG&E know by early this week what resources they needed, and when the aid should be sent.

"We will be giving up to $100,000 in charitable contributions to the Red Cross to assist hurricane victims, matching donations by our employees, to try to help with the human side of this tragedy," said Gordon R. Smith, the PG&E utility president/CEO, who characterized the damage to equipment infrastructure in the region as "extensive," requiring as much help as can be mustered from around the nation.

Baltimore, MD-based BG&E had deployed utility crews to South Florida to help restore electric service in the wake of Katrina, which hit the state first before bearing down on the Gulf Coast. On Friday, the crews left Florida and were due to arrive in Baton Rouge, LA, over the weekend. BG&E said it has deployed nearly 350 employees and contractors to the affected region.

"With South Florida slowly getting back on its feet, it's time our employees moved on to the areas that need them most," said Mark P. Huston, vice president of electric transmission and distribution for BG&E.

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