NV Energy stocks its linemen’s vehicles with tools and hardware suitable for most repairs. When disaster strikes, however, the field workforce may be short-handed when it comes to the necessary materials needed to repair damaged infrastructure.

That’s where the “Rolling Warehouse” comes in. NV Energy invested in an emergency material trailer (EMT) to serve the utility’s northern Nevada service territory. That way, if the linemen can’t get to the warehouse, the company can bring the warehouse directly to them.

NV Energy packed the 45-ft-long semi-trailer with 281 different items that line crews may need when they’re repairing or rebuilding power lines destroyed by wildfires or violent storms. The trailer is stocked with about 60,000 lb of inventory valued at about $75,000, and it’s kept near the Reno, Nevada, warehouse loading dock.

NV Energy hauls the EMT behind a 500-hp Peterbilt diesel that’s powerful yet nimble enough to deliver the goods over sketchy roads in nasty weather.

The utility has been relying on the mobile warehouse since the first version was fabricated in the mid-1980s at the suggestion of warehouse employees. It has proved particularly useful during emergencies because the company’s northern Nevada service area is spread out over a wide geographic area covering more than 41,000 sq miles of mountainous, mostly rural territory. Compounding the challenge, the site of the emergency is often many miles from one of the company’s 10 warehouses, the largest of which is located at the operations center in Reno.

Transporting Materials for Overhead Lines

If you take a look inside the EMT, you’ll discover everything needed to repair or rebuild any overhead distribution line up to 60 kV. Among the items stacked on the shelves are insulators, crossarms, a variety of hardware, safety equipment, headlamps, rope and gloves. It is also equipped with a generator that keeps the trailer heated and lit, a two-way radio, a coffee maker, bottled water, energy drinks and snacks. The trailer is maintained and operated by the company’s supply chain materials department. When deployed, it’s usually staffed by one or two employees.

Depending on the season and the nature of the disaster, warehouse workers may customize the trailer’s inventory with snowshoes, fire extinguishers, face masks and shovels.

Emergency Material Trailer

Before the advent of the EMT, the normal procedure was for a crew to load any extra materials anticipated for the job on their line truck, travel to the scene, assess the damage and then determine what other materials might be needed. Then they relayed that information to the warehouse. The appropriate hardware was then staged for pickup and delivery to the site by someone from the line crew or warehouse. Depending on the location of the damage, the evaluation and delivery process used to take up to 12 hours.