BLP lends a helping hand

Grand Haven Board of Light & Power crews responded to a long-distance service call to aid Traverse City Light & Power and Cherryland Electric Cooperative after a winter storm slammed the northern Michigan area last week. Line foreman Walter Young said the work was difficult as a result of the snow, which was knee-deep in many spots.
Alex Doty
Mar 10, 2012

 

“It’s a little break from the normal everyday humdrum of work,” Young said. “It’s new, exciting, dangerous and fun.”

Young joined a two-man line crew and a two-man tree trimmer crew from Grand Haven to help restore power to the snow-walloped Traverse City region last weekend.

Traverse City was hit with 24 inches of snow, knocking out power to thousands of customers across six counties. Local electric company officials got word of the need for aid at 2:15 a.m. Saturday and sent people soon after.

“I knew for them to call for help, it was going to be pretty bad,” Young said, noting that during an average storm, Traverse City Light & Power crews will have enough manpower and experience to tackle any outages.

Young began noticing the effects of the storm about 4 miles after passing through Manistee on U.S. 31 on his way to Traverse City.

“I did not see a light on for 45 miles,” he said, adding that the drive took more than four hours instead of the usual three.

Young said that the snow was so wet it caused many lines to break, and snapped branches also caused lines to come down. A typical work day lasted 18 hours, beginning at 7 a.m.

“It makes me very proud we have employees willing to be away from their families that long to help a community in need,” said Annette Allen, general manager at the Board of Light & Power.

Jim Blekicki, distribution superintendent, said that on Monday night, local crews completed their assistance with Traverse City and began helping Cherryland early Tuesday morning. The crews stayed up north for much of the week.

The mutual aid agreement calls for the other power companies to reimburse the Grand Haven company for the assistance.

Crews from Holland, Lowell and Zeeland were also sent to assist the Traverse City area.

“It is very helpful to have such an agreement in place during large power outage situations — such as this one, where more manpower is required to restore power in a timely manner,” Allen said.

During major storms that have hit the Grand Haven area, such as the May 1998 windstorm, crews have come to the assistance of the Tri-Cities.

“They’d do the same thing for us,” Board of Light & Power spokeswoman Renee Molyneux said.

 

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