On Sunday afternoon October 2nd, while many of us were enjoying an afternoon of watching football, baseball, the Ryder Cup and the sudden appearance of fall (rain and lightning), a car traveling down Redwood Blvd struck one of Redding’s streetlight poles on the westside. Redding Electric Utility’s (REU) Power Control Center (PCC) received a call from Shascom about the accident. REU PCC, which operates around the clock (24/7/365) dispatched REU’s on-duty Troubleman to assist the Redding Fire Department and Redding Police Department on the scene.
Just about the same time a full-team of REU linemen were enroute to that incident, a major blast of lightning struck one of REU’s power poles on the eastside of town (Tarmac Road area). The force of that lightning strike broke the top portion of the pole completely off, and the pole caught fire. The uppermost section of this particular pole carries power lines rated at 115,000 volts. This upper section was laying precariously above the lower lines on that pole (12,000 volt circuit). Within approximately 1/20th of one second, the REU’s powerline protection devices located at our substations automatically tripped circuit breakers to protect our customers and equipment from damage; this left over 2,400 REU customers without power.
In less than three hours, REU’s team successfully re-energized (restored power) to all but 8 customers impacted by this lightning caused outage. REU’s troubleman, who first responded to the outage, ended up having to delay his planned date with his girlfriend; as it tuned out, that was not a problem – she happened to be one of the customers affected by the outage. Meanwhile, as most of us slept warmly and soundly Sunday night, REU’s Linemen worked tirelessly through that cold-dark night to replace the damaged pole, reset all the euipment on that pole and restored power to the remaining 8 customers who were impacted by the lightning. I had the priviledge of visiting with most of those Linemen on Monday morning as they staggered in after this all-night effort. Another REU crew was sent out to relieve the first crew and to finish switching REU’s system to normal operation.
The events I described created quite an interesting start to REU’s celebration of National Public Power Week which began Sunday, October 2nd and runs through Saturday, October 8th. Redding Electric Utility (REU) is one of more than 2,000 public power utilities that help power the lives of more than 48 million people across the country. One benefit, and arguably one of the most impactful benefits of Redding (our community) owning its own electric utility, is the $30 million annual savings REU customers realize on their electric bills compared to our community receiving its electricity from a San Francisco based investor-owned utility. But the true value of community owned, Public Power is demonstrated by the commitment of those who serve our community through our very own electric company.
REU’s employees have a variety of backgrounds and expertise working in various aspects of the business including Customer Services, Power Supply, Financial & Business Services, and Transmission & Distribution. But even with the diverse group of people, backgrounds, and expertise, we all have one thing in common and that is to provide outstanding service to you, the Redding community – our community! We are powerful together, Redding!
Dan Beans, REU Assistant Director – Transmission & Distribution