Multiple crews were working together on Friday from Nipsco bringing 3 phase commercial and industrial power to the new medical campus being built just east of 49 between 400 and 500 North in Valpariso. Roque "Rocky" Ybarra III, Transmission Project Engineer took time with me to review the work they were doing, and talk not only about the infrastructure that they are building out in the area, but also the plans that Nipsco puts in place every time there is the potential for severe weather in the region.
In addition to the overhead power lines with 12.5 kilowatts of power streaming through them, Nipsco is also in the process of installing underground gas and electric lines from the corner at 500 North across the highway and to the medical campus, which totals about a mile and a half of piping. Rocky noted that most of the crew that you see up in the buckets have been through a 4-5 year apprenticeship program, and then continue with many hours of ongoing training every year to do what they do with the safety precautions required.
On a Friday like today, with the remnants of hurricane Isacc on it's way into the region, those same crews are also very aware that this is likely to be a very labor intensive Labor Day weekend, responding to any storm damage that occurs. "Our force goes into the weekend knowing many will be on standby so they can be ready to help wherever they are needed, and they know it is our job to get everyone back online when there is an outage, no matter what the weather may hold or what it takes".
"We're out there diagnosing where the outage may be, and figuring out how to get the customers back up and running as quickly as possible. These guys have an incredible amount of pride in what they do, and they know everyone is depending on them".