Secretary Chu meets with Pepco line workers in Maryland on November 1, 2012. | Photo by Sarah Gerrity

Yesterday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu met with Pepco line workers in Maryland as they prepared to go out for the day to continue power restoration efforts in the state.

Line workers, utility staff, and first responders across the region are undertaking exhausting and often dangerous work to restore power to American homes and businesses. Utility companies from across the country have mobilized in support of the recovery in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, deploying 64,000 linemen and utility staff to the front lines to repair downed power lines and bring electricity back online. And as they finish up in one area, workers move on to continue assisting other areas still recovering from  the storm.

Hurricane-force winds and the resulting downed trees are the primary cause of damage to electric utility transmission and distribution infrastructure. Utilities have tree removal crews to help when large limbs or trees land directly on power transmission lines or knock out utility poles. Once those are cleared, the line workers can get to work installing new poles and transmission lines as needed. Workers also have to be wary of the safety risks associated with clearing downed power lines, some of which might still have a live electrical current.

The Department of Energy has been working in close coordination with FEMA, the Department of Transportation and other federal agencies to support these utility crews in whatever ways possible. This includes making sure to streamline permits for out-of-state utility crews crossing state lines and clearing roads to ensure access to those areas that need it most.

As the efforts to recover from the storm and restore power to millions of Americans continues in the days ahead, the Energy Department and its federal partners are focused on doing everything we can to support local utilities and workers.