Jim Woodward

Aug. 1, 2012
Tucson Electric Power
  • Born in Austin, Texas.

  • Married for 37 years to his wife, Kathy, and they have four children: Paul, Jeremy, Brad and Vikki.

  • Describes himself as realistic, credible, honest, quietly strong and solid. His coworkers would describe him as honest and calm under pressure.

  • Enjoys playing three musical instruments, creating landscapes and remodeling his home.

  • Is the only one in his family working in the power industry.

  • Inspired by his wife and his faith in Jesus.

  • Can't live without cordless power tools like presses, cutters, saws and drills.

  • His favorite boss was Jim Redfield, an intelligent, friendly and patient man who became his “father” in the industry.

Early Years

My friend's father worked in the power industry in the late 1960s. The prospect of travel, good money and the never-ending need for electricity fueled my interest in this trade.

My first job was working for Arizona Public Service in Phoenix, Arizona. As a 21-year-old apprentice, I worked on a 230-kV underground oil static line in July 1973. It was hot and muggy, and I enjoyed spending nine months on the job in downtown Phoenix. I remember that the linemen on the crew were excellent educators.

Day in the Life

As a supervisor, I have the chance to return the favors given to me by my predecessors. I oversee 30 of 100 construction personnel, attend multiple company meetings and visit all of our crews to support them and their duties. My commitment to a safe and enjoyable working environment is paramount.

Challenges and Rewards

Evolving technology and continuing education present a challenge I have not yet seen during my career. The need to be more educated and have a greater technology background seem to follow the evolution we see in the utility industry. Directing the path of new apprentices in line construction is tough, but the reward of providing quality, professional craftsmen makes it worthwhile.

The retiring baby boomers and the knowledge that leaves with them is so universal right now. To adequately prepare the next generation in such a short time is a tremendous task, and we need to be sure that the speed at which they retire does not compromise the transfer of knowledge and its related training.

Safety Lesson

I'll never forget when we repaired fire-damaged underground facilities on Mount Lemmon in Tucson, Arizona. During a forest fire, my friend Ken was overcome by smoke and could barely breathe because of his diminished lung capacity. We had to move our crews up the slope 2 miles to our trucks to travel back to town. I carried Ken on my back for the 2 miles so his lungs would not be burdened by walking in the smoke of the fire.

It occurred to me that my life was so little a sacrifice for a brother who was in greater need than me. We were not fully prepared to work in the environment of a forest fire, and Ken was not going to be a casualty. As a followup to this incident, our line crews prepared a hazard and rescue plan for such an incident.

Memorable Storms

I've had a lot of storm memories over the last 40 years. One incident that stands out, however, was climbing a pole in my underwear in a flood-ravaged town south of Tucson. We had to ford a river with our tools and materials to put a three-phase line back up to provide water to the community.

Plans for the Future

I would go into this industry again in a heartbeat. The relationships I've made, the people I've met and continue to meet, and the experiences this has given me is priceless. Everything has brought me to where I am today, with no regrets.

My passion has never waned, nor have I ever sought employment elsewhere. It has afforded my family a life not known by my father or his father. I am proud to have had a small part in any journeyman's career in the United States.

I can retire in five years, but I'd like to stay longer. There are things I would like to instill at Tucson Electric Power before I go and that involves some more schooling for myself.

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