Recent graffiti directed towards the Turlock Irrigation District outsourcing work has caused quite the stir in the local community.
Although the graffiti itself is illegal, the message behind it is factual.
In February, TID entered into a service contract with American Sitebuilders, a national civil construction company based out of Texas. According to TID, these crews of electrical line workers are responsible for fixing shortages, providing new electrical service, as well as routine maintenance and improvements.
“TID utilizes contract crews for various reasons; however the main goal is to always provide excellent customer service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” stated TID spokesperson Michelle Reimers.”Another benefit of having contracts in place with companies such as ASB is that in the event of an emergency, TID can respond to customer needs in an efficient and safe manner.”
In October last year, approximately 49 TID customers were without power for as much as 45 hours one weekend, following a breakdown of the District’s longstanding policy to address outages.
That breakdown came, potentially, due to an ongoing labor dispute between the District and the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents TID linemen.
However, TID stated that the decision to use out-of-state contractors wasn't based on geography, but more on who was most qualified to provide the best service for Turlock’s customers.
“There are periods when demand for new service exceeds TIDs staff limitations,” said Reimers. “These periods are unpredictable, and having contract crews available allows the District to be flexible to meet customer expectations.
“We have used local contractors for low voltage work in the past, however, those contractors are not qualified to do the large range of work we need contractors to do,” said Reimers. “We pre-qualified firms to bid on the current work based on experience in a wide variety of line work because we may need them to do work from high voltage transmission all the way down to underground distribution."
TID General Manager Casey Hashimoto added that American Sitebuilders is a company the District knows it can rely on.
“It’s also about familiarity,” said Hashimoto. “We have worked with them in the past, so we know what to expect.”
According to Reimers, TID has been using outside firms on and off for over a decade, and that selecting a national firm to do work is actually quite common for irrigation districts.