Saturday, September 3, 2011

Update on Linework in NorthEast

Heard from lineman today in Long Island. Apparently the utility has brought in 3500 linemen to restore power to the remaining 80,000 or so still without power in that particular area.  The number of linemen for that small amount of outages is astounding.  Nevada has about 700 linemen in total for the entire state to take care of the grid - so that number is almost equal to the total number of linemen from about 5 states.

Why the hoopla for Long Island? There were several hundred people without power for over 2 weeks in NW ND last spring when the temps were about 20 degrees during the day, but no one seemed worried enough to send/request additional crews to help those North Dakotans in need at that time.  Is it because the people on Long Island are more important than those in ND? Or do they just have louder voices?

The questions swirling around the utilities' efficiency is pretty ridiculous when you realize that over 8 million people who lost power during Irene have had it restored in less than a week.  Most people in Texas during the aftermath of Ike went around 3 weeks without power, but there was no investigations forthcoming to find out the whys of the situation.  Why is that now that the Northeast has been hit that the speed with which power is being restored is being questioned?

My lineman has been told by his superiors that he isn't to talk to customers while he's working the job, and to keep an eye out for the media - apparently they have been sending reporters in to photograph the situation.  Unfortunately, part of the issue stems from the fact that the linemen drive 13' high trucks and many of the "parkways" in the affected areas only allow for a 8' clearance.  This means the equipment can't get through and the linemen have to be creative when figuring how to bring in new poles.  This on top of the fact that they must hand dig all the holes for the replacement poles - something that obviously adds additional time to power restoration.

If there is an investigation that needs to be done, perhaps it should be on the Long Island regulations that allow for 8' clearance on roads and the rules mandating hand-dug holes, not to mention the fact that it took, for one particular job, no less than 4 different people to sign off before the work could even begin.  The linemen are there.  They are trying to get the power restored.  The bureaucracy needs to step back and let the guys do their work.

Friday, September 2, 2011

8 million have had power restored in less than a week.

Questions are being raised regarding the amount of time it is taking to get the power restored to the millions who were left without electricity after Hurricane Irene.  According to the Pioneer Press, 9.6 million people were left without power after the storm raged through several eastern states; as of the time of printing of the linked story, 1.3 million were still without power.  No mention is being made of the fact that over 8 million people have had their power restored in less than a week.  Only complaints that it hasn't been completely restored to all who lost power, even with the floods that ravaged communities, breaking up roads and dismantling bridges in their wake. Do people not understand that in order for the power to be restored, the linemen need to be able to reach the communities - without roads and bridges, how are they to do so?

My husband is one of the thousands of linemen who left their families to travel to the Northeast and restore power to the stricken communities.  He has called me daily and told me about the kinds of obstacles they are facing with each restoration.  His stories include having to drive miles out of the way just to find a road through to a community without power, waiting for "bird-dogs" (safety/EPA people) to show up (as much as 5 hours late) to sign off on jobs, getting lost on winding roads in the Catskill Mountains in Upstate New York, walking several miles of line to find the tree that had fallen and cut off power to many homes, and most recently, sitting in traffic on Long Island while trying to reach his destination where he would be fed and have to endure a long meeting with the utility company execs who would be explaining to the crews what they could and couldn't do while replacing poles and lines.  The rules he faces include being unable to use an auger to dig holes for the power-poles - each pole hole must be HAND DUG before the pole is set.  According to the information given to him, there are at least 100,000 people still without power on Long Island alone, with hundreds of crews trying to restore the grid and get these communities up and running again.  How quickly do you think the power will be restored when each pole has to have a hand-dug hole?  This is quite frustrating for the crews who are there, attempting to do their jobs, but are inhibited by regulations put in place either by Federal, State, Local or Union entities.

If you or your loved ones are without power, please understand that the crews are doing their best to restore it for you.  When Ike hit Texas, some people went without power for weeks.  With a storm of the magnitude of Irene and the millions affected, we should applaud the hard work of the crews who have restored power to more than 8 million people already - this in itself is amazing.