Nearly 50 people from Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) and its sister company We Energies are in California working to get the lights back on for tens of thousands of people who lost power from a series of strong storms.
The WPS and We Energies crews are part of a mutual aid effort to help Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) address outages from storms, flooding and mudslides. The crews loaded their trucks and left Wisconsin Saturday, Jan. 7. After traveling across the country, they are in California today and beginning restoration efforts in the central part of the state.
Amy Plato, an area manager for We Energies, is part of the group in California. She said they expect to be working for at least two weeks to restore power.
“Here at We Energies and WPS, we’re a pretty tightknit family, and we want to help. Being a part of a restoration effort like this is really amazing. These guys are so proud to be able to come to California and help the customers here,” Plato said.
WPS and We Energies have a history of providing mutual aid during large outage events. The companies sent crews to Puerto Rico for two months in 2018 to help rebuild the U.S. territory’s electric grid after the unprecedented destruction caused by Hurricane Maria.
“The PG&E employees, they’re exhausted. We’re here to at least help them get some rest so we can take over, help them out. We have a good group here — we’re going to get some work done,” Plato added.
The WPS and We Energies workers are joining crews from across the country. Plato said the response from local residents has been incredible.
“People are excited that we’re here. They want to get back in power,” Plato said. “It’s just really amazing how we’re welcomed with open arms.”