On January 29, PG&E received a report of a mudslide that threatened the stability of a transmission tower near highway 24 in Orinda. To ensure that the tower remained in place and functional, the area around the tower needed to be shored up — no easy feat, given the back-to-back rainstorms and excessively muddy conditions on the hillside — and dozens of Local 1245 members were dispatched to address the issue.
“The affected tower was shored up by two sagging cats, and tower crews braced up the footing of the tower by adding more steel braces at the bottom of the tower. The sagging cats winch lines were secured to the base of the tower to help,” explained IBEW 1245 Business Rep Mike Saner, who was on the scene for the better part of a week. “The crews had planned to build a shoe-fly to temporarily off-load the conductors from the tower, but the conditions on the hillside presented a number of challenges which resulted in some delays. The equipment was finally able to get the top of the hillside, and the crews went to work digging holes in order to set temporary steel poles. Once the crews got the holes dug, a helicopter flew in the poles to be set, and after the poles were set, the crews then off-loaded the tower by moving the conductors to the temporary poles.”
Crews worked around the clock in severe weather for several weeks, using cranes, tractors, helicopters and off-road vehicles to get the job done. On Feb. 24, the Company announced that the situation was stabilized, and no customers had been affected. Once the hillside starts drying up, which could take a few months due to all the rain, a new tower will be built. But for now, PG&E customers in the East Bay can rest assured that the transmission tower isn’t going anywhere.
Photos by John Storey