Thursday, August 30, 2007

True Confessions: I was a unpaid scout for the power company

We've had three lightning caused power outages in the last few weeks. It's fashionable to blame weather weirdnesses on global warming, so I'll jump on that band wagon to explain it.


A few hours after this latest lighting induced power outage, yesterday, a large Excel Energy Truck with a cherry picker shows up.

A "old fat man" (these were his words) jumped out and started asking directions to a pole so that he could replace the fuse.

It was twilight and I knew the moon would come up any minute because we'd had a lunar eclipse the day before. I'd not had my habitual walk either.

So I volunteered to show him the way. OK, I admit, I was curious too how this all worked.

The power pole he was looking for was in the narrow valley on the other side of Winiger Ridge. This meant going up 100 yards, then down 300 very steep yards. At night.

Fortunately, I knew most of the faint trail that would take us there pretty much by heart.

We set off and about 30 minutes later we where at the pole with the blown fuse. This is where it gets tricky. The fuse is nearly 40 feet up and the only way to get at it is with a 40 foot long telescoping fiberglass pole. Given the flex of the fiberglass pole, this is not easy.

Also, if the lightning had taken out more than just the fuse, it would have created a very loud explosion as the new fuse also blew.

After about 15 minutes of fussing, the utility line man was able to install the fuse. It held. No explosion.

My curiosity was also satisfied about how this all works.

On the way back up , I learned that the lineman would retire in 3.5 months, after 37 years. I wondered where the new talent would come from to replace him. Nobody in "the younger generation" seemed interested working in the wilds of Colorado in all kinds of weather conditions.

I had volunteered to carry the collapsed telescoping fiberglass pole back up after seeing how much of a strain it put on the lineman to manipulate the pole to get the fuse back in place. It got quite heavy by the time I was back on top of the ridge.

After we got back, I got to keep the old blown fuse as a souvenir.

Then, it was back to business as usual... at least until the next global warming induced lighting strike.