My interest in the line trade dates back to when I was a young boy. I remember watching linemen working on the poles in my neighborhood and that got me interested in the electrical field. As a teenager, I worked at an electrical supply company and that furthered my interest.
In 1977, I started reading meters in Center City, Philadelphia, for Philadelphia Electric Co. (now PECO Energy). I loved the challenge because most of the meters were indoors so it involved a lot of timing to get the job done.
Day in the Life
I enjoy the diversity and challenges that every new day brings. After we stretch in the morning, I prioritize the work that needs to be accomplished and balance manpower to fit the need. Then it’s time to do paperwork, meet with employees, customers and crews, and to make a lot of phone calls.
Upgrading the System
Like all utilities, we are investing in the replacement of aging infrastructure. Our local division is spending more than $14 million over the next five years as part of a distribution system infrastructure project. This will encompass replacement on more than 4,500 overhead poles, various underground cable replacements as well as natural gas upgrades.
I learned my safety lesson when we were replacing a transformer. My coworker pulled on a piece of #6 solid copper that was in tubing, and the tail of conductor cut diagonally across the surface of my glasses. After examining the deep cut on the lens, I was glad I had my personal protective equipment in place.
I was out working in a vicious lightning storm with Bill Pratt. I had just closed the cutout to restore power to a tap when I turned around to see if the lights came back on, and in that instance, lightning hit the line just down the road from us, tripping the circuit. What a flash!
I’ll also never forget when we did storm work in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for Duke Energy in December 2002.
Challenges and Rewards
Hostility toward the coal industry is a concern for generation plants. And environmental impact on the landscape is a hurdle for America’s transmission infrastructure. Finally, in the next few years, a high turnover of well-trained linemen will cause staffing challenges for the electric distribution sector.
It’s a challenge to meet the customers’ expectations. When I know they’re happy, I walk away with a great sense of pride.
Life as a Lineman
After working as a meter reader, credit representative, fleet mechanic, mobile maintenance for generation, dispatcher, and a lineman, I feel the power industry has something for everybody. Being a lineman and teaching the trade, however, is the best of all of these positions.
I can’t think of a better trade to work in. The friendships and camaraderie that you experience during your career are unbeatable, and teamwork is really defined.
Plans for the Future
In the future, I plan to keep learning as much as I can about the trade and to pass on my knowledge to those who seek it. The opportunity to instruct and teach new apprentices and troublemen is something that exhilarates me.
I also enjoy any project that is technical, and the more complex, the better. Anything that involves a paradigm shift intrigues me.