Colorado Xcel crews take convoy of utility vehicles to Florida

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DENVER — Dozens of Xcel Energy workers from Colorado are driving a convoy of utility vehicles to Florida to help deal the with aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

The damage from the Category 4 storm is expected to be unprecedented.

Officials say nearly 3.5 million customer could be without power for weeks.

“We think this could be the most challenging restoration in the history of the U.S.,” said Chris McGrath with Florida Power and Light.

Xcel Energy is sending 62 lineman, three managers, two safety coordinators and four mechanics from Colorado.

Another 28 contractors from Colorado have also deployed to the hurricane area.

Xcel said the convoy would consist of up to 30 utility vehicles.

The convoy left Denver on Sunday morning, and friends and relatives cheered as it passed through Agate.

Xcel Energy is part of the Edison Electric Institute’s Mutual Assistance program for disaster recovery as events affect power systems.

After major weather events that bring significant outages, electric companies used this program -- a voluntary partnership of electric companies across the country -- to help speed restoration.