The electrical grid attack on Dec. 3 at two Moore County substations shined a light on local heroes. Meet Kelly Ritter!
Ritter is a native of Robbins, lives on the same road as where he grew up and said that concerning his work as a lineman to restore power, “I was just doing my job.”
Ritter is a journeyman crew foreman who builds, repairs, and oversees a crew for Randolph Electrical Membership Corporation in Robbins.
“My faith in God, put each day in his hands, good or bad, and know he is in control,” Ritter said about his life’s motto.
Ritter agreed to meet for the interview at one of the attacked substations.
When he said his family attended Community Friends Church in Carthage, a distant whirring helicopter whooshed down overhead. It flew closer and lower, and with the company truck’s signage in sight, it flew away, down the power line path.
Stephanie, his wife, is a nurse for Randolph County Hospice, and they have a daughter, Kala, 27, and a granddaughter, Payton.
Ritter’s father lives 200 yards up the road, and his mother lives in Candor.
As first responders, electrical teams are the first to respond to calls after storms when felled trees impact power. Ritter said the trucks are stocked and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
“My wife is used to me being called out. I might be gone an hour or a day,” Ritter said about his wife’s first reaction to the call on Dec. 3 when the grid was attacked.
“We really didn’t know how bad it was at first,” Ritter said.
“People need to understand how times have changed in the last twenty or so years. New homes don’t have fireplaces, and most don’t have gas logs. For us, it [the job] is beyond power, it is lifesaving,” Ritter said about people needing power for life support equipment in their homes.
Ritter said on the first night he spent about 14 hours at work. The next day was a 24-hour day, and they went home and slept a little before returning.
Crews repaired and rebuilt two separate tie lines. The Eastwood, Pinehurst, and Murdocksville areas had power restored, and transmission lines energized 63 hours earlier than the Duke substation repairs.
Seven Lakes’ lines had two miles of three-phase line energized within 34 hours. This was even before the substation’s repairs were completed, making the Seven Lakes restoration 30 hours ahead of expectations.
Rotating blades slapped the air as Ritter discussed the sabotage of the transformers and the helicopter as a supplementary security measure.
“I hope the people responsible realize how many people were affected. They weren’t hurting the big companies. They hurt families,” Ritter said about spoiled food and time without work so near to Christmas.
An article by the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association includes a video of drone footage on Dec. 4 when repairs by Ritter’s teams were underway in daylight. View here.
“If it had been ten degrees and raining, we’d still be doing our job,” Ritter said.
Feature photo: Randolph Electrical Membership Corporation journeyman crew foreman Kelly Ritter shares his side of the story about repairs to the Moore County electrical grid after the Dec. 3 attack.
~Article, photo, and video by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected]