ComEd lineworkers powering lives beyond northern IllinoisJanuary 12, 2021
ComEd Lineworker Gus Santiago is committed to providing safe and reliable energy to homes and businesses across northern Illinois.
But when hurricanes, earthquakes, storms and other natural disasters occur that cause significant damage and power outages outside the areas the energy company serves, Santiago and other ComEd lineworkers are quick to lend their expertise.
This process is known as mutual assistance. Energy companies affected by significant outages often turn to the industry’s mutual assistance network—a voluntary partnership of electric utilities from across the country—to help speed restoration.
In 2020, Santiago signed on for four ComEd mutual assistance deployments. In total, these deployments enabled him to travel to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Mississippi and Maryland to assist with recovery efforts.
Gus Santiago completing work in his truck
“Each deployment lasts about a week, depending on the severity of the storm. Once we get there, we have a huddle with the energy company we are assisting with,” Santiago said. “They explain our assignments, processes and safety measures.”
Depending on how much help is needed, hundreds of ComEd employees could be deployed.
“You must be ready for anything. I think all employees should take the opportunity to experience a mutual assistance deployment,” he said. “Seeing some of the devastations that people have to endure hits home.”
During his 21 years with ComEd, Santiago has been on 12 deployments. His trip to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017 was his most memorable.
ComEd employees helping restore power in Puerto Rico, 2017
“Those people in Puerto Rico were out of power for two months and called us their shining stars. They would provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for us every day,” Santiago said. “They’re doing all this cooking on rocks and grills, being so grateful we were there.”
In the future, Santiago plans to be a part of more deployments.
“I get satisfaction in helping and seeing how grateful people are when you get their lights back on,” he said. “People start yelling out their door, thanking ComEd.”