Palm Desert, California. 8 a.m.
On a residential street between a single-story home and an apartment complex, “road closed” signs are in place. In the distance, a 90-ton crane traverses the street, coming to a stop between the two buildings. Out steps crane operator Gilbert Everhart. He’s greeted by John Potter, his partner for the day.
Everhart and Potter are Southern California Edison (SCE) crane operators. The team supports crews on new construction projects across SCE’s service territory. They also help replace poles and electrical equipment in locations inaccessible by vehicles.
Today, a field crew is replacing a deteriorated pole as part of SCE’s pole-loading program. Over the next six years, more than 1.4 million poles will be assessed and replaced, if needed. This pole is located in a backyard behind the apartment complex. The crew requested the help of crane operations to lift the old pole over the building and replace it with a new one.
“For maintenance work, customers are notified in advance when their power will be out,” said Everhart. “They usually don’t expect to walk out their door and see a crane flying a pole past their house.”
Potter operates the crane controls. Everhart is on the ground, prepping the crane and pole to lift and coordinate with the field crew. He talks to Potter over the radio and guides the crane’s movements. Teamwork is a must; there’s no room for error.
Potter extends the crane boom nearly 200 feet to reach the backyard. The field crew disassembles the old pole by removing the transformer and using the crane to fly it over the building. Then, a lineman cuts down the old pole, notifies Everhart to fly in the new one and connects the wire conductors to restore power.
“We take a lot of pride in helping safely deliver power to customers,” said Potter. “A lot of the poles we’re replacing are in wind-prone areas and the new pole will withstand winds better and help keep the lights on.”