When freezing rain, strong winds and piles of snow blow through our territory, it can cause power outages. Winter weather commonly breaks off tree branches and causes trees to uproot and fall into the power lines, but thankfully we have our skilled and dedicated linemen ready to respond. To better understand the added difficulties of restoring power during and after a winter storm, we spoke with Lineman Donovan Williams.
When we arrive at an outage site, we patrol the lines in our trucks searching for the cause of the outage. We often need to survey the lines on foot when our vehicles can’t drive into the woods because of snow and ice. Without a bucket truck available to help us fix the damage, we need to either climb the pole or use a chainsaw or the pole saw, a handsaw on an extendable pole, depending on the type of repairs.
Once you free up the lines, the freezing rain can cause another challenge before restoring power. The metal reclosers/breakers that turn off the power flow when it senses trouble on the connected lines are located at the top of the pole and often become frozen in the off position. After fixing the issue on the lines, we work to break the ice and turn on the breaker by using an extendable pole tool that we call a long stick.
The cold, wet weather takes a toll on us when our hands turn numb and our clothes become soaked. Our rubber gloves are designed to protect us from electricity, not to keep us warm. We always keep a couple sets of dry clothes with us to change into throughout the day.
While we work as a team every day, this becomes especially important during storms. We know that we have each other’s backs with everything from watching out for each other’s safety to grabbing our tools from the truck to save someone a trip back through the snow.
Restoring power during winter storms isn’t easy, but you’re able to push through those hard times because each time you repair a problem and restore power to another member, you get a good feeling knowing that you got a family’s lights back on and that they’re now warming up at home together.