The municipal department is part of a team helping power restoration efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
BRAINTREE – Braintree Electric Light Department will send a third crew to assist with power restoration efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands next week.
The department is part of a team of municipal light departments sending lineman to restore power to the power-ravaged island of St. Thomas.
“It’s been a big effort,” said Bill Bottiggi, the general manager. “The damage has been pretty devastating.”
Bottiggi said a first crew was dispatched in early October and spent a month assisting residents and local workers. When they returned, another Braintree crew took over. The third crew is set to arrive on Thursday, Dec. 14, with a fourth crew following in January.
Bottiggi said it’s been a challenge but rewarding to move workers and equipment over a thousand miles across the ocean to a region devastated by recent storms.
While there, Braintree crews of linemen have mostly been removing and replacing electric poles as recent hurricanes have destroyed them. On St. Thomas alone, more than 6,000 poles had to be replaced.
Some time has also been dedicated to installing new wires on the island. An average workday for the crews is 14 hours.
“The guys were excited to go down there to help,” said Bottiggi.
Bottiggi said it’s a practice in the utility industry to extend mutual aid to each other.
“It’s an extreme to go down to an island like this, but this is pretty extensive,” said Bottiggi. “It’s just a tradition: to help each other, to help other utilities.”
Other Massachusetts light departments have also been assisting the island, including Hingham Municipal Lighting Plant.
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