TO THE RESCUE: VT Electric Co-Op Heads to the Front Lines

JOHNSON – Superstorm Sandy brought winds to the Kingdom Monday evening that howled through the night and knocked out power to a few thousand homes. But the storm was not as devastating locally as predicted. The massive storm wreaked havoc in many other parts of the country, including New England. Sandy’s devastation has left 8 million people without power. Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) workers have finished restoring power locally to 6,000 customers in their service territory. Outages started around 4 p.m. Monday when winds picked up and caused some trees to fall on lines. Tuesday evening, all power to VEC members was restored.Wednesday morning, 14 VEC line workers traveling in bucket trucks and other utility vehicles headed to the front lines to provide mutual aid and assistance to utilities hardest hit by power outages caused by the storm, including Green Mountain Power and utilities in New Hampshire.VEC crews will support utilities in other states as needed in the coming days and possibly, weeks, said Elizabeth Gamache, Corporate Spokesperson with VEC. It's not known how long workers will assist with restoration efforts. "This is an unprecedented outage event and VEC will do our part to help recovery efforts," said Dave Hallquist, CEO. "We are extremely proud of our employees' commitment to ensure public safety and to rebuild severely damaged infrastructure."Electric utilities have a long-standing practice of providing mutual aid to one another when needed, Gamache said. About half of VEC's line workers will remain in Vermont to ensure day-to-day operational needs are met. Many of Vermont's smaller municipal utilities stand ready to provide assistance to VEC if needed, Gamache added.