As more than seven million people on the East Coast struggle without power thanks to Tropical Storm Sandy, San Diego Gas & Electric said it is sending some 40 employees to help in restoring power to a three-state region.

The crews departed Thursday morning, Nov. 1, from the utility’s operations base in Escondido, and will help Con Edison crews replace poles and restring wire in communities throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, SDG&E said.

The crews will stay for an estimated 10 days or until they are no longer needed. In addition, some 20 pieces of equipment were shipped to help in the repairs. The company said the loan of mutual assistance crews will not hamper SDG&E’s ability to meet its customers’ needs.

The firm, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, is a member of the Western Region Mutual Assistance Group through its participation with the California Utilities Emergency Association. Members and counterparts throughout the nation often call on one another to help in restoration efforts after natural disasters such as winter storms, SDG&E said.

-- SDBJ Staff Report