Storm Leads to Lengthy Outages for Some TID Customers

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Last week's storms wreaked havoc on the Turlock Irrigation District's electrical system, leading to several blown transformers and a whopping 15 pole power pole fires.

“I can't remember the last time we had 15 pole fires,” TID Service Division Supervisor Mark Pickens said. “It's been a long time.”

Pole fires can occur when a combination of dust and light rain or drizzle cause power poles to become conductive – especially with the first rain of the season.

Though most outages were restored quickly, the sheer volume of incidents led to lengthy outages for some TID customers. April Premo, of Ceres, said her power was out for 13 hours due to a pole fire.

Premo said that she called TID after her electricity had been down for seven hours. At that point, crews had yet to come out. She was told that it would likely be hours more before her power was restored, as she was still 12th on the list.

Though Premo said TID staff were all very nice and helpful throughout the ordeal, she expressed concern at the duration of the outage.

However the number of incidents was simply massive, TID Director Joe Alamo said, leading to unavoidably long restoration times.

“This isn't a common event,” Alamo said. “We had all of our resources out to try to get the power back up.”

That included TID's crew of contractors, employed by American Site Builders, of Texas. Those contract employees were working until 6:30 a.m., Pickens said.

The contract workers supplemented TID's five in-house lineworker crews to get the power back on, working through the night to restore Premo's power at 3:25 a.m. The electricity would have been out all night had it not been for the hard work of those lineworker crews, she said.

But for many communities like Premos, comprised mostly of seniors and “frail” individuals, having the power out much longer could have been dangerous, she said. She urged TID to hire additional lineworker crews to help address emergency situations.

“This was not a tornado, this was not a hurricane, this was not an earthquake,” Premo said. “What happens when a real disaster happens?”

Comments 9

  1. insider says:

    Alamo does not know what he is talking about. Yes, all of TID’s crews were out. 4 total not 5. only 3 years ago it was 9. That little bit of rain would have been nothing for a full compliment of TID crews. 6 would have worked into the early morning , and that would have been it! Under this current board, crews have been done away with and this little rain showed what TID customers are going to have to live with in the future. This current board and General Manager (Casey Hashimoto) are hell bent on ruining the kind of service Tid customers used to get. However, when a board member wants his power on right away (Ron Macedo) it happens the same day his city inspection is done. Customers of TID get ready, long waits are in your future. Unless you join the board!

  2. Insider says:

    Although the other decision the board could make is to hire more outside crews. PG&E has 40% of their crew from outside contractors. They save on pension costs and they can reduce these crews when times are slow. May be TID should hire someone from PG&E to take the GM position.

  3. Funny says:

    The problem with outside contractors is they know nothing nor do they care about TID’s electrical system or the customers. Their work is mediocre at best and they take twice as long to complete a job then the TID linemen do and the contractors get paid twice as much. And no one ever mentions how the TID linemen have to go behind the contractors and repair their mistakes. So I don’t see the benefit or the savings in hiring contractors. Oh and if you live where your electrical wiring is underground you will be screwed when you have a problem because the contractors know nothing about underground work. When you live in this community and have family that live in this community then you are going to take pride in your work and take care of your customers, the contractors are just here for double time. They don’t give a crap about the work they do, they will be long gone when everything falls apart.

  4. t says:

    The same goes for most contract employees including building inspectors.

  5. The pension fairy says:

    To the insider. Somebody just rattled off some mindless chatter as a way to justify decisions. Insider, your “40% of pg&e are contractors” is funny! When you blurt out numbers like that it shows how uninformed you are! Or that you will believe anything that is told to you? Do you know that percentage to be fact?
    PG&E employs over 20,000 employees PG&E Tid employs a little over 400 people. So is this the plan? To reduce TID to just a little over 200 employees? To save on pension? And I seriously doubt that this contractor pulls out his wallet out of his back pocket to covers his employees overhead(pension), would you? So who covers these contractors overhead(pension)??? The pension fairy?

  6. Customer says:

    Maybe TID management should perfect the business model of outside contractors. I see where the board is going with all the savings on pension costs and the ability to downsize employee numbers when there is not a lot of work to do. Outisde contractors in my business may not know their customers but they are more productive. I mean. How many times have you seen TID employees on the clock for hours at a restaurant.

  7. Funny says:

    I don’t see how contractors can save you money when they get paid twice as much and do half the work. Then you have to send TID linemen out to repair the contractors work. There is no savings there and the TID customers are going to have to pay for it!! So when the rates go up you know why. Poor management and contractors. Maybe they should stick to the business model that has worked for over 120 years. As far as the TID employees sitting at a restaurant for hours, I don’t even know what that means and it has no relevance to anything.

  8. Not Funny says:

    Funny,

    You don’t know what it means? If you can’t figure out how TID saves money by not paying retirement costs and not carrying employees then you’ve fallen off too many electric poles.

  9. Might be on to something says:

    I think the TID board might be on to something? The board should outsource everything, from the bottom up, and from the top down! And if pension is the BIG driving factor, they(the board) could start with outsourcing management to a firm first, I’m sure there’s tons of management firms to choose from? Get rid of all of TID management, since they(managers) pay the least into the pension, and take the lion share of the pension. Then you could move into accounting I’m sure the board could find a contract agency to do all the book work? Then move into engineering and contract out all that work. TID already outsources half of its labor, so just keep that ball rolling. I’m sure there’s a firm that could manage power generation? As well a companies that could manage the water/irrigation? So now you don’t have any personnel, now there is no need for an HR department. Oh, You won’t have anyone to drive your vehicles, so I guess you could do away with the mechanics/fleet! Eventually you the board could reduce TID to nothing, but just a board of directors, with all these different agency’s who give them weekly board reports, so from a board seat prospective not much has change nothing really affected the board members. Problem solved no pension cost, except for the pension that the board members get. Oh wait,? That didn’t solve the pension issue.

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