Less than 24 hours after receiving an urgent request for assistance, local linemen boarded an early morning flight to California on Oct. 28 to help restore service to residents affected by wildfire-related shutoffs.
Five UniSource Energy Services and six colleagues from sister company Tucson Electric Power spent five days helping Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) restore service to some of nearly 1 million customers whose electricity had been shut off because of high fire danger.
The local crews were among hundreds of utility workers from around the country to respond to PG&E’s call for aid. PG&E cut off power during high winds and dry conditions. Before electricity could be restored, about 30,000 miles of lines and poles had to be inspected.
After landing in Sacramento, the TEP and UniSource linemen traveled to a PG&E facility in Davis for orientation and picked up some fire suppression gear before proceeding the following day to San Rafael, a coastal community north of San Francisco.
There were no fires in the area where the crews looked for damage. The crew inspected lines on steep hills and encountered grateful customers.
“We were prepared for the worst, honestly, and we were really lucky in our assignment area. It’s a really beautiful part of the country,” said Tom Kaminski, a Transmission & Distribution Supervisor who led the team. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to go with.”
After patrolling San Rafael and surrounding communities for about 20 hours over three days, the crews returned to Arizona on Friday, Nov. 1.
“The team did great. They covered a lot of ground and made a real difference for the residents,” said Cynthia Garcia, Senior Director of Transmission & Distribution Operations. “We take pride in serving the public and responding quickly to emergencies. I’m glad TEP could be there to help.”