Pas­coag line­men help­ing to re­store power in Florida

Woonsocket Call - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSEPH FITZGER­ALD jfitzger­ald@woonsock­et­

BURRILLVILLE — Pas­coag Util­ity Dis­trict line­men Glen Derby, Chris Pic­cardi and Doug Me­nard left for the Florida Pan­han­dle Wed­nes­day morn­ing to as­sist the pub­lic power com­mu­ni­ties im­pacted by Hur­ri­cane Michael.

The three-man Pas­coag crew drove down in a Pas­coag Util­ity Dis­trict bucket truck that was part of a con­voy rep­re­sent­ing not-for­profit state and lo­cal com­mu­nity-owned elec­tric util­i­ties from Rhode Is­land, Con­necti­cut and Mass­a­chu­setts. Pas­coag Util­ity is part of mu­tual aid or­ga­ni­za­tions, both in New Eng­land and na­tion- ally, that pro­vide help on a vol­un­tary ba­sis.

Hur­ri­cane Michael hit the Pan­han­dle as a his­toric Cat­e­gory 4 storm on Wed­nes­day. It was the third-most pow­er­ful hur­ri­cane ever to make land­fall in the U.S. main­land. The storm was be­ing blamed for at least two deaths.

As of Thurs­day af­ter­noon, more than 713,000 homes and busi­nesses in the South­east had no elec­tric­ity. Michael was a trop­i­cal storm, hit­ting North Carolina and South Carolina with heavy down­pours and threat­en­ing to cause tor­na­does.

The Pas­coag Util­ity Dis­trict’s

Elec­tric Depart­ment is Rhode Is­land’s only not-for-profit pub­lic power util­ity serv­ing ap­prox­i­mately 5,000 cus­tomers in the vil­lages of Har­risville and Pas­coag. The dis­trict, in­cor­po­rated by a spe­cial act of the Rhode Is­land Gen­eral As­sem­bly, is a quasi-mu­nic­i­pal util­ity that pro­vides elec­tric­ity and water on a “not for profit” ba­sis. Pas­coag Elec­tric is reg­u­lated by the Rhode Is­land Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion.

Both Pic­cardi and Me­nard were in Florida last year to help re­pair the dam­age to the state’s power in­fra­struc­ture caused by Hur­ri­cane Irma. Man­ning a bucket truck, they were part of a con­vey that rep­re­sented pub­lic power util­i­ties in Nor­wich, Con­necti­cut, and Belmont, Brain­tree, Chicopee, Con­cord, Dan­vers, Ge­orge­town, Gro­ton, Grov­e­land, Hing­ham, Holden, Holyoke, Ip­swich, Lit­tle­ton, Mans­field, Mar­ble­head, Mid­dle­bor­ough, Mid­dle­ton, North At­tle­boro, Nor­wood, Prince­ton, Row­ley, Ster­ling, Taun­ton, Wake­field and Welles­ley in Mass­a­chu­setts.

Pic­card and Me­nard worked 16-hour days as­sist­ing the Or­lando Util­ity Com­mis­sion, a mu­nic­i­pally-owned pub­lic util­ity that pro­vides water and elec­tric ser­vice to 246,000 cus­tomers in Or­lan- do, St. Cloud and parts of Orange and Osce­ola coun­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to Pas­coag Util­ity Dis­trict Gen­eral Man­ager Michael Kirk­wood, Pas­coag Util­ity is pro­vid­ing the restora­tion as­sis­tance as part of a mu­tual aid agree­ment be­tween non-profit util­i­ties to help cities and towns re­cover from storm dam­age when­ever and wher­ever it oc­curs.

Photo cour­tesy of Pas­coag Util­ity Dis­trict

From left, Pas­coag Util­ity Dis­trict line­men Glen Derby, Chris Pic­cardi and Doug Me­nard are among util­ity crews from across New Eng­land that have trav­eled to Florida to help re­store power to mil­lions of peo­ple im­pacted by Hur­ri­cane Michael.

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