When Tropical Storm Colin came calling, TECO crews and contractors were ready with a “fast and furious” response – not in muscle cars but in bucket trucks and other fleet vehicles as they fanned out across the community to restore power quickly and safely.
How safely? With zero personal injuries and zero preventable accidents.
“When you have outages impacting nearly 40,000 customers, you’re talking about a lot of hard, complex work that we have to do, as quickly as possible, in a variety of unpredictable situations,” said Bill Whale, senior vice president of Electric Delivery. “A lot can go wrong in large-scale restoration efforts after severe weather, but in this case, everything went right – and it’s a testament to the safety commitment of our team members that’s part of our company culture.”
While the eye of Colin hit north of Tampa, the bands from the storm caused damage to electrical infrastructure (mostly from tree limbs) significant enough to send TECO into a response mode similar to that of a hurricane. Fortunately, with the efforts TECO undertakes year-round to prepare for severe weather, the lights were back on for people across the Tampa Bay area in short order.
“Once we had our restoration work progressing well, we sent 30 of our Fishel contractors over to assist Duke Energy in St. Pete with their restoration efforts,” said Lee Collins, emergency management manager with Tampa Electric’s Transmission & Distribution Support Administration. “The spirit of cooperation and support between utilities is hugely beneficial to the community, no matter who provides your power.”
For Luke Diruzza, manager of Distribution Engineering & Operations, the effort was good practice for the possibility of larger storms – and another demonstration of the commitment to excellence by team members and contractors at all levels at TECO.
“It was a fast-paced, two-day storm restoration event,” Diruzza said, “with a response from our crews that Bill Whale called “fast and furious.” At our Western Operations Center alone, we had nearly 300 team members and contractors – they and everyone who made the response to Colin a success should feel proud of a job well done and, best of all, done safely.”
Make sure your household is ready for the next round of severe weather, whenever it strikes – be sure to read our safety guidance and have a safety plan in place.