New Bern Public Power Team Receives National Commendation

New Bern Department of Public Utilities

The City of New Bern Department of Public Utilities has received a national commendation from the American Public Power Association (APPA). The award recognizes the department for its mutual aid efforts to support power restoration earlier this year in High Point, North Carolina.

In February, a City of New Bern power crew deployed to High Point ahead of an ice storm. Although the city was largely spared from the storm, toppling trees and accumulating ice caused power outages to approximately 2,600 City of High Point customers. When the weather cleared, nearly a quarter inch of ice covered many roadways making travel dangerous.

Six linemen from the City of New Bern embedded with High Point crews to provide mutual aid assistance to restore power to customers. Paul Baker, Justin Rupert, Noah Banks, Taylor Fornes, Ryan Ordiway and Cedric Smith worked 16-hour shifts repairing and/or replacing power lines, poles, and other infrastructure. Within 24 hours, 89 percent of lost customers had been restored.

“Mutual aid is at the heart of what public power does and the public power community thanks you for stepping up to help a neighbor in need, whether they are next door or thousands of miles away,” said Joy Ditto, President & CEO of the American Public Power Association, in a letter to the City of New Bern.

Mutual aid agreements create contractual partnerships between municipalities to offer restoration services during natural and manmade disasters. New Bern has a long history of providing mutual aid support to other public power communities in their time of need. “Public power communities have a deep understanding of mutual aid assistance and what it means to help a neighbor in need,” said Charles Bauschard, Director of Public Utilities for the City of New Bern. “We’re first responders. We are committed to mobilizing quickly, responding safely, and working as swiftly and efficiently as possible in a disaster to help our partners and customers get the lights back on.”

The City of New Bern has also been on the receiving end of mutual aid assistance, most recently during hurricane Florence when more than a dozen public and private power companies helped New Bern crews restore power. Hurricane Florence caused damage and power outages to 100 percent of New Bern’s customer base. “That’s the beauty of public power,” said Bauschard. “When you say the word, help is on the way.”

According to the APPA website, there are more than 2,000 public power communities across the country.  For more information on the APPA, visit their website at

By Colleen Roberts, Public Information Officer, City of New Bern