Derec Janaway of Oklahoma Electric Cooperative

Spotlight on the Line Trade: Derec Janaway of Oklahoma Electric Cooperative

July 27, 2017
Derec Janaway, a construction foreman for Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, volunteered overseas to provide electrification to Bolivia.
  • Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Darrell and Linda Janaway and has one younger brother, Daxon.
  • Married for 10 years to his wife, Robyn, and has three children: Logan (9), Payton (7), and Addyson (5).
  • Enjoys taking an active role in his kids’ sports by coaching basketball and helping to coach baseball. He enjoys watching them play baseball, softball, and basketball. Also, he and his family like taking vacations to the mountains and the beach.

Early Years
I became interested in the utility industry when I studied to become an electrician in high school at the Moore Norman Technology Center. During the program, I started a night dispatching job at Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (OEC) based in Norman, Oklahoma. While working nights at OEC and finishing the electrical program, I had the opportunity to meet many people within the cooperative. A couple of the linemen helped me to start on the path of becoming a lineman.

Day in the Life
I am currently a construction foreman, and our crew mainly works on URD systems, maintenance and construction. On a daily basis, our crew performs pad inspections in addition to making sure each transformer is up to code; we also check for any problems inside the transformer. We do new construction every day to homes and businesses as well. 

Challenges and Rewards
The biggest challenge in our industry is the weather. Anywhere in the world, weather is variable and it affects electricity. One of the biggest rewards is the impact to members when power is restored. It is fulfilling to know that you play a part in providing a crucial commodity and service to homes and businesses.

Volunteering Overseas
My most memorable moment as a lineman was being a part of the 2016 Energy Trails international electrification project, which helped to bring power to remote villages in the Amazonian area of Bolivia. It was very rewarding to provide power to people who would otherwise go without. This opportunity took me back to the roots of the rural electrification program. I had the privilege to work with a group of linemen whom I normally would not get to work with; we formed friendships for a lifetime, and for that I’m very grateful. It was an honor to work together to provide a better quality of life for the people of those villages. I have a desire to serve as team leader for an international electrification project in the future.

Safety Lesson
The moment when I learned the importance of safety on the job was when a fellow lineman lost his life due to an on-the-job accident. He was someone that many of us looked up to and admired. It is a reminder that even though this industry is incredibly rewarding, it can also be unforgiving. This is what drove me to take a greater interest in safety and loss control within the electric utility industry.

Memorable Storm
My most memorable storm moment was working to restore power after Hurricane Gustav. I worked in Louisiana for two weeks. There was total destruction in the area from the hurricane, and it was very humid. The people were great and willing to help out in any way they could, including feeding us local cuisine every day. Even though the work was demanding, the crew had a lot of fun working together. Several days into working double circuit construction, a retired lineman from the area stopped us and was impressed with how well the crew worked together towards a common goal.

Tools and Technology
The number one tool I can’t live without is my mind. You’ve got to stay focused and alert at all times. Most accidents occur when people lose focus, so you have to remain attentive to the task at hand. Devices such as iPads in the field have also helped by streamlining outages and allowing crews to know exactly where they are through GPS technology. An updated map is crucial for troubleshooting and for SCADA operations.

Life as a Lineman
If I had to do it all over again, I would still go into the power industry. It’s a rewarding career that enables me to make a difference in the lives of many. I wouldn’t change my career or the pathway that has led me here. It’s a job where you can travel to help others and no days are the same.

 Future Plans
I would like to further my education with the goal of advancing my career in the electric cooperative industry. I am very interested in both the safety and loss control and operations aspects of the industry. I see myself serving my cooperative in one of those capacities.

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