RALEIGH, N.C. — Private contractors from nearly 20 states have come to help North Carolinians get their power back, but many workers are being told to stay off the poles. That is because North Carolina's two biggest utilties, CP&L and Duke Power, have different policies when it comes to working their out-of-state crews.
Hundreds of miles from their families, some Michigan linemen working for Duke Power are raring to get the power back on in Durham. But, like powerless customers, some crews are frustrated by the pace.
"I think our most concern is the fact that we're only working 12 hours. We're ready to work 16 hours," said Adam Rakay, a lineman from Michigan.
Duke Power has out-of-state crews working 12- to 14-hour shifts, mostly during the day. Jimmy Flythe, district manager for Duke Power, said with linemen working in unfamiliar territory, the policy is about safety, not cutting cost.
"When you know you're going to have a storm that's going to last for several days and the outages are going to be extended, you got to have people working daylight hours," he said. "They're going to be much more productive during the daylight than at night."
"You're not going to sleep for 12 hours. You're going to eat, you know, be bored," Rakay said.
On the other hand, CP&L tells WRAL their contractors are asked to work 16- to 18-hour shifts. They contend crews can work those hours safely.
Rakay said he admits he wants to work more overtime hours to make more money, but he also wants to get the job done. When asked if he was working 16 hours would more people have power right now, he said, "there's no doubt about it."
When it comes to regulating work hours, the state utilities commission do not make that decision. The individual companies make that decision.