In a first-of-its-kind trip, a baker’s dozen of TECO Peoples Gas workers are leaving for New York today to help National Grid restore natural gas service to its Long Island customers who continue to be without service in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Crews left this morning for the two-day drive to West Hempstead, N.Y., and they are prepared to stay for nearly three weeks. They will replace regulators and turn on natural gas service for residential customers. “We have appreciated the assistance of other gas utilities in our times of need, and we are happy to return these types of favors whenever we can,” said Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas. “We are proud to help the customers of National Grid during this extensive restoration effort.” This brings to nearly 130 the total employees from TECO Energy companies who have traveled to the Northeast to help with Sandy restoration. Tampa Electric sent 115 employees – plus 175 contractors – to New Jersey to restore power in October and early November. Residents of Long Island and some areas of New York City were the hardest hit when Superstorm Sandy came ashore Oct. 29. The storm’s hurricane-force winds wreaked havoc and left thousands of residents without power and natural gas, in some cases for days or weeks. National Grid said it is continuing around-the-clock efforts to repair portions of its natural gas system that were damaged or destroyed by the storm. Peoples Gas participates in the Northeast Gas Association’s mutual assistance network, which is a collection of natural-gas utilities that help each other in case of emergency. Crews supporting the restoration efforts of other utilities are paid by the host utility. Peoples Gas System, Florida’s largest natural gas distribution company, is one of the three core businesses of TECO Energy, Inc. (NYSE: TE), an energy-related holding company with regulated electric and gas utility operations in Florida through Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas System. Peoples Gas serves nearly 340,000 customers in most of Florida’s major metropolitan areas and beyond. TECO Energy’s other major subsidiary, TECO Coal, owns and operates coal production facilities in Kentucky and Virginia.