John Roy Schell and his family

Spotlight on the Line Trade: John Roy Schell of Georgia Power

July 15, 2017
Lineman John Roy Schell, a father of two daughters, serves as an on-the-job trainer for Georgia Power. He is responsible for training apprentice linemen and teaching them how to climb poles and structures and work safely.
  • Born in Georgia and has a younger brother who works for Southern Company as a contract lawyer.
  • He and his brother are the only members of the family working for the power industry.
  • Has a nine-year-old daughter named Jade and a 15-year old daughter named Emily. He said “his beautiful daughters are his whole world and the reason why he does what he does every day.”  As a single father, he says he is helped out a lot by his mother, Janice, who helps with his daughters each day after school.
  • Enjoys fitness activities like running and lifting weights. He also likes playing outside with his daughters and fishing in his spare time.
John Roy Schell serves as a lineman for Georgia Power. 

Early Years
I was in need of a job, and a friend told me that Pike Electric was hiring and helped me to get on board. I did transmission and distribution work at Pike before going to Georgia Power, and while it was hard work both physically and mentally, I enjoyed all of it. I learned the skills to become a lineman at Pike, and then I continued my career by joining Georgia Power in January 2013.

Day in the Life
Today, I work as a lineman and an on-the-job trainer for our crew. In this role, I’m responsible for training our apprentice linemen. A typical day consists of teaching them to climb or work out of the bucket. My ultimate goal is to ensure the linemen are learning their craft correctly and safely. In the future, I would like to work as a foreman for Georgia Power.

Challenges and Rewards
The biggest challenge is ensuring that everything you do is done in a safe and timely manner. The biggest rewards are when the job is done, the power is on, and you can look back and say, “I helped to do that.” It is a sense of satisfaction like no other.

Through the line trade, John Roy Schell has been able to provide and care for his two daughters with help from his mother, Janice.

Safety Lesson
One day on a job, we were bare-handing a 115-kV line to change out a line switch. After installing a mechanical jumper (mac), we were getting ready to take down the old switch. I had just put the mac on and made it hot when our leakage meter started going off. We were able to hook the old switch back up and get the mac down. Upon further inspection of the mac, we discovered a tear. We replaced it and were able to change out the switch. That day, I learned to check and double-check everything.

Memorable Storm
In 2008, I helped to restore power following Hurricanes Fay, Ike and Gustav. We were gone for 31 days with Pike, and we worked from Mississippi to Texas. The damage was horrible. We worked in swamps the whole time and had to sleep in our trucks.

In the Field
Right now, I am working on a large 230-kV line upgrade project called the Hairpin. It is the most heavily loaded 230-kV line in Atlanta. We are replacing all of the structures and pulling new bundle wire to ensure the line stays operational for Atlanta. The line stretches for miles through the city and serves hundreds of thousands of customers as well as the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and the Centers for Disease Control. Crews are working in densely populated areas and crossing interstates, staggering work during the fall and winter over several years, according to Georgia Power. 

Tools and Technology
Some of the tools I use daily and I cannot live without are my snatch blocks, which have gotten me out of more than one bind. Some of the new technology that we are using includes more battery-powered tools. With these tools, we are able to work more efficiently while maintaining and improving safety.

Career-Defining Moment
My proudest memory is when I completed training and became lineman. It sticks out in my mind because being a lineman is quite an accomplishment. It is something I am extremely proud of.

Life as a Lineman
If I had to do it over again, I would not change a thing. I would go into the power industry without hesitation. I love being a lineman, and I couldn’t imagine being anything else. Georgia Power has given my daughters and me everything we need and want, and it makes me proud to do this job. It has given us a great life.

About the Author

Amy Fischbach | Amy Fischbach, EUO Contributing Editor

Amy Fischbach is the contributing editor for the Electric Utility Operations section of Transmission and Distribution World. She worked for Prism Business Media (now Penton) for eight years, most recently as the managing editor of Club Industry's Fitness Business Pro magazine. She is now working as a freelance writer and editor for B2B magazines. Amy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.She serves as the national vice president of the American Society of Business Publication Editors. She can be reached at [email protected].

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