Letter to the editor: Linemen don’t rest
As a West Penn Power lineman for nearly a decade, I was disappointed the Tribune-Review was critical of our response to the recent severe winter storm ( “Are electric companies aware winter is coming?” Nov. 20, TribLIVE).
Our strong system is designed to withstand the elements, but ice causes special challenges. Leaf-covered trees and saturated ground combined with ice, heavy snow and gusty winds to create the perfect recipe for widespread damage. Jobs normally taking six hours took twice that as we cleared trees from roadways and used boats to access equipment in areas flooded by rain prior to the winter storm. Limbs weighted with ice and snow continued to fall for days, creating new outages well after the storm passed.
In a major storm, linemen don’t rest until every customer has electricity. A small army of 1,800 lineworkers and support personnel worked 16-hour shifts, around the clock, to restore power before Thanksgiving to over 70,000 West Penn customers. In the Butler area alone, we replaced more than 75 broken poles, 300 broken cross arms, 60 transformers and 125,000 feet of downed wire … all in just five days. That’s a massive effort.
Storms in any season are challenging, but West Penn Power employees will always be prepared to respond.