More than 100 BPA personnel and contractors have answered the call to get the lights back on in the New Jersey area. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, as many as 8.5 million people were left without power across 21 states in the Eastern seaboard. Among the hardest hit was the New Jersey coast.

“BPA’s line crews, electricians and other skilled professionals have the highest level of expertise working on high voltage transmission systems – no one does it better,” said Kim Howell, regional manager for Transmission Field Services. “They’re eager to help our fellow utilities and citizens, whose electrical system has been pounded by this storm.”

As part of the Department of Energy’s emergency response, BPA volunteered resources that would most likely be needed in a disaster recovery effort. Among those deploying are maintenance transmission crews; a full bare-hand crew; specialized in working with energized lines; heavy mobile equipment mechanics; and vegetation removal contractors.

Along with the volunteers, BPA sent 71 pieces of large equipment ranging from utility trucks to power generators and backhoes. BPA also coordinated with Clark County Public Utility to move some of their equipment and tools for a crew that had previously deployed.

The crews and equipment were deployed in three waves from Joint Base Lewis McChord near Olympia, Wash., and Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Wash.

To move the equipment required an intricate process of weighing, measuring and developing load plans to place each piece precisely into the bellies of multiple C-5s and C-17s, huge cargo planes employed by the U.S. Air Force.

The BPA volunteers are deploying for an unknown length of time, possibly up to two months. Once they arrive, they’ll work in coordination with DOE and FEMA to restore power.

In planning its response to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, BPA took great care in looking at the potential needs in the Pacific Northwest in the coming months. This deployment does not degrade BPA’s ability to respond to critical weather events and maintain system reliability.

“BPA takes pride in our unique skills to get the power restored and the lights back on,” Howell said. “Our skills really shine when the situation requires us to step up and get a difficult job done.”