by Eric Wolfe
A utility’s reputation rises and falls on its ability to provide responsive service. Meet the guys who put the response in “responsive.”
Last summer, July 25th to be exact, IBEW 1245 Linemen Steve Bentley and Anthony Albright were in the middle of a pole-set job when they were re-directed to deal with a burned and broken cutout that put 131 customers out of power. “So we responded to that and got those customers energized,” said Bentley.
In fact, they did it in less than two hours, from the time the T-man found it “to the time we got our parts and ran out there and made the repairs.”
The next day, Bentley and Albright teamed up with Luis Sotomayor, Adam Beene and Foreman Ray Fox to replace a pole that had been crippled by a wayward vehicle on a winding mountain road outside of Nevada City.
“It’s very much a rearranged crew. Nobody’s working with their normal crew,” Bentley said.
Didn’t matter. When the call comes, you get the job done with the people you have. That’s part of what it means to be responsive. What followed was aprecision demonstration of the craft. They pulled the damaged pole back together to make it safe to work around. They augered a hole right next to it. They went up the road where the new 50-foot pole had been stashed earlier, hitched it to a truck and dragged it up close to where it was needed.
From the bucket, Albright and Beene were installing rubber so that the pole could be raised safely and not come into contact with the lines, which remained energized throughout the operation.
“We have extensive safety training for working energized lines—our rubber glove work method,” said Bentley. He called the company’s rubber gloving safety record “historically fantastic” since the practice was first developed by the company in bargaining with IBEW 1245 in the early 1990s.
Raising the pole was a delicate operation, with Luis Sotomayor operating the grabber and the rest of the crew guiding the pole into place. Bentley described what would happen next: “We’ll put the new cross-arm and a kingpin up on top, we’ll transfer the conductor to the new cross-arm and kingpin. The new configuration will have cutout brackets on the cutout arm, and we’ll install the cutouts on that,” he said. After that, a new transformer is installed on the pole. Job done.
That “responsive” slogan you’re used to hearing? This is what it looks like in action.