Thousands of operators are watching over these days to ensure that electricity and gas supplies reach all the families confined to their homes, the hundreds of hospitals that fight against the coronavirus, the shops that sell food and thousands of stores and factories that have to continue operating.
Making energy flow is a task with very little visibility that is in the hands of thousands of energy and distribution company workers these days who leave home to do work in the shadows vital for the heart of the economy to continue throbbing.
“In this crisis there are many people who are leaving their skin, people who are seen and people who are not seen. We are one of those who cannot be seen”, defends Alberto Farre, technician at the Endesa production control center in Lleida .
Following this crisis, the company has doubled its distribution network control centers. In each one of them, a team works continuously to control the transformation, transport and distribution of electrical energy.
There are also field workers, essential workers who these days review the infrastructures that supply critical facilities such as hospital centers and do everything possible to accelerate the connection to the network of field hospitals that are being erected throughout the country.
“Right now I really know that my work is very important”, explains the person in charge of installing the new transformer in the field hospital in Malaga, Juan Antonio Campos, who, although he admits that the fundamental task is that of the health workers, is feel tremendously proud of what he does.
Like Endesa, many Iberdrola employees remain at the forefront these days, guaranteeing energy supply and maintaining basic services, either from its six control centers or from facilities in cities, towns and rural areas across the country.
Workers in the network distribution division work on a special care plan in more than 300 hospitals, to ensure both the maintenance and quality of supply and to facilitate the deployment of new facilities.
Although ordinary citizens are more familiar with the names of these and other electricity companies, behind their service is that of Red Eléctrica de España (REE), the operator of the country’s electricity system, which, as such, must ensure the continuity of supply at all times.
Some 400 of its employees work in the most critical divisions for security of supply: electrical and network control centers, and maintenance teams. According to REE, all of them are “fully aware” that they are facing an “absolutely electro-dependent” society, so they carry out their function with a clear “vocation of public service”.
FROM THE VESSELS THAT FISH THE BUTANO BOMBONA
Likewise, some 5,500 people work in the five Repsol industrial complexes from which gasoline and diesel fuel leave, which these days make it possible for food trucks to reach their destination or for fishermen to continue working at sea.
Almost 500 employees of its Electricity and Gas division maintain their activity during this crisis and continue working to guarantee service through twelve hydroelectric plants, two combined cycle plants and various cogeneration plants.
At the foot of these infrastructures there is a huge human team ready to “continue working until the end”, as Javier Mesones, operations technician at the Aguayo Hydraulic Power Plant (Cantabria), explains, adding, that he returns home every day “with the satisfaction “of having contributed to energy production.
But these tasks are not by far the only ones, because where natural gas does not go, butane does. Every year this company distributes nearly 50 million cylinders to 4 million customers through 200 distribution companies and some 1,800 distributors.
Behind this task is, among many others, Manuel de la Morena, who has been distributing butane to nearly 70 homes every day for 35 years and who is firmly committed to continue doing so. “The cylinder will not be missing, the supply is assured,” he says proudly.
Enagás, natural gas transporter and Technical Manager of the Spanish gas system, has some 820 people who, from gasification plants, maintain and operate the main gas pipeline network so that the gas reaches homes, hospitals or shops.
“We are the first step for everything to work properly,” explains Ismael Rodríguez to refer to the Main Control Center, of which he is the shift manager, and which he defines as the “heart of the gas system” because from there the pumping of the natural gas to guarantee supply.
For its part, Naturgy has 2,500 people around the world carrying out essential operations, 1,400 of them in Spain, who leave confinement every day to guarantee the gas supply.