Keeping America Powered: Meet Utility Workers Essential To Their Communities (Part 1)
See how Heather, Vince, Dan, and Steve are keeping the lights on for their communities.
Journeyman Cable Splicer Electrician
SMUD | Sacramento, CA
“For us, the work didn’t change. Everyone still needs power, so we kept working.”
As a journeyman cable splicer electrician for SUD, Heather Andersen is responsible for keeping the lights on in Sacramento, including at the California State Capitol. Beginning her career at the age of 20, Heather completed a four-year apprenticeship at SMUD and now has almost a decade of experience under her tool belt. You can normally find her down underground, splicing cable, making sure things get done properly, so the lights stay on in the city. Because Heather’s work is critical to keeping things running in Sacramento, she has remained on the job throughout the pandemic. SMUD isolated crews and ramped up the use of personal protective gear to keep both employees and the community safe.
Director of Fleet and Facilities
OUC | Orlando, FL
“We became front and center to ensuring employees were kept safe, and Orlando’s lights stayed on.”
OUC has a proud history of providing reliable electricity to the cities of Orlando and St. Cloud, along with portions of Orange and Osceola Counties. They have been named Florida’s most reliable electric utility for 22 years in a row, and they remain dedicated to ensuring their customers receive reliable service despite the pandemic. A former firefighter and now OUC’s Director of Fleet and Facilities, Vince Preston is critical to fulfilling this mission. He and his team are front and center of all cleaning and sanitizing throughout OUC workspaces, particularly the utility’s control rooms, which are staffed all day, every day to keep the community’s lights on.
Lead System Operator
NYPA | White Plains, NY
“I went from going home every day to being sequestered 28 straight days. It was a grind, but I was proud to do what I did.”
While many people spent 2020 working from home, Dan Bigos did the opposite and lived at his place of work. As a lead system operation within the New York Power Authority (NYPA), Dan is a highly trained essential utility worker responsible for keeping the lights on in New York State. For almost 30 years, Dan has been monitoring system conditions and helping fix outages wherever they occur. When COVID-19 struck, Dan was one of a handful of employees who left his family and lived on-site at NYPA’s operation center. With NYPA generating 25% of the state’s power–including for hospitals, state government buildings, airports, and even the New York City subway–it was a sacrifice he was proud to make.
NPPD | Sutherland, NE
“Everyone appreciates electricity, uses electricity, nobody knows it’s there until it’s out.”
A local manager with NPPD, Steve Derr has been on the front lines of keeping Nebraska powered through any situation for 29 years. During the pandemic, his day to day didn’t change a great deal. People need to stay connected, and Steve made sure that through numerous storms that have hit Nebraska in recent years, the electricity remains flowing to NPPD’s 89,000 customers. Whether it’s fixing a downed line at Sutherland’s Fourth of July Rodeo or traveling to Iowa after a bad ice storm, Steve is essential to keeping Americans connected and powered.