As wildfires continue across a handful of California counties PG&E crews – at times more than 1,000 strong – have been working to safely and quickly restore power to affected customers.
They’ve been working in areas affected by the Valley and Butte fires for two weeks – in Lake County and Amador and Calaveras counties. And, they’ve made significant progress reducing the number of customers without power and rebuilding PG&E equipment damaged by the fires.
“This restoration effort is the largest incident I’ve ever commanded. We’ve identified 947 poles that need replacement. To safely and successfully execute a restoration effort of this size requires an incredible amount of coordination – not just internal to PG&E, but with Cal Fire, with the Sheriff’s Office, other law enforcement, the county agencies, the electeds – all these teams need to work as one to make this successful,” said Robert Cupp, Valley Fire incident commander.
Locals are thankful at the pace of restoration and temporary power brought in by PG&E near the Butte Fire.
“I was down at 15 percent on my laptop. It was cool because you guys showed up with the generator truck and it was like, ‘I can plug in” said Robert Shepherd, Mountain Ranch resident and Butte Fire evacuee.
PG&E employees, working long shifts away from home, say the customer appreciation keeps them going.
“It’s nice when they appreciate it and come up and shake your hand and they’re like, ‘Good job, we really appreciate you guys being here. And, thanks for all you’re doing.’ It just kind of gives you that little boost that you need to keep going,” said Zach Macias, an electric subforeman from Fresno.
PG&E is working closely with Cal Fire and providing outreach to communities and local agencies providing shelters for displaced residents. Last week, PG&E donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross.
Added Cupp: “I feel a sense of loss along with this community. And, it’s all about what we can do to rebuild. And, not just rebuild the infrastructure, but rebuild the hearts, the souls, the people of this community. It’s all about bringing a sense of normalcy back to them and doing anything that we can to do that.”