20200622 102158

Spotlight on the Line Trade: Ray Knott of OPPD

Aug. 20, 2020
As the son of a lineman, Ray Knott, a troubleshooter for OPPD, enjoys the tradition of line work.
  • Born in Omaha, Nebraska, and grew up in a small Nebraska town. He has one brother.
  • His father served as a lineman for Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) and his mother worked as a secretary for a rural water company.
  • Married for 25 years to his wife, Carla. They have three grown children. His oldest is a substation electrician, and the youngest is just starting utility line school at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska.
  • Enjoys camping, fishing, hunting and spending time with his family. He also coaches high school wrestling. 


T&D World is excited to partner with Milwaukee Tool on a new sponsorship for the linemen profiled in the Lifeline (Spotlight on the Line Trade) department. To thank the linemen for their hard work and dedication to the line trade, Milwaukee Tool will send a custom tool package to each lineman profiled. For September, Milwaukee Tool plans to personally present a donation, valued at more than $500 to Ray Knott. Here is what he will receive from Milwaukee as part of the company's partnership of Lifeline. In addition to safety glasses, he will get the following: 

Thank you to Milwaukee Tool for helping us to honor and celebrate linemen and give them the tools they need to get their work done swiftly and safely on the job site. 

Early Years
My dad was a lineman, so I followed in his shoes. My first job was for Red Dot Electric putting in traffic signals in Lincoln, Nebraska. During the summer of 1994, I had a summer internship at Omaha Public Power District (OPPD). I completed my apprenticeship at OPPD’s Papillion, Ashland and Omaha, Nebraska, centers. In 2002, I topped out as a journeyman, and in 2017, I became the rural troubleshooter at the Louisville center.

Day in the Life
I have been with OPPD for 24 years, and currently, I work as a troubleshooter. My daily duties include trouble calls, new services, power quality investigations and repairs. Hardening the System Right now, we are doing a lot of Osmose pole change-outs, getting rid of rotten poles and upgrading wire. We are also putting in more storm structures on our transmission system.

Technology in the Trade
Technology has improved equipment and makes our jobs easier and safer. Meters are huge in our industry. We use them to identify if equipment is energized or not and if it has the proper voltage and is safe to ground and work on. You can also see if you have continuity through amp and resistance readings.

Challenges and Rewards
As a troubleshooter, I deal with long hours and bad weather conditions. I also have to spend time at work when I should be with my family, such as during holidays. At the end of the day, we bring power to the customer, and they know we do what we can to keep it that way.

Memorable Storm
The October 1997 storm was the worst for me. We had high winds and 1.5 ft of heavy wet snow and ice. More than 700,000 people were out of power, and we were working more than 16-hour days to repair a lot of torn-down services and replace broken poles. During the storms, you not only see the devastation, but also people in need. As linemen, we realize we are the only ones who can help them to get back to normal.

Safety Lesson
When we were isolating a primary VE switch, we tested it before we grounded it. The switch was wired backward so the load bay was still energized. I know it’s standard operating procedure, but that is why we have those procedures. Future Plans I don’t see myself doing any other job. I plan to work in the industry until I can retire. It’s a great career and one that makes you feel a great sense of pride. Stay safe, my friends.

Editor’s Note: This profile is the first in a new Lifeline series about troubleshooters, which is a continuation of the feature story, “Tales of Troublemen,” in the 2020 T&D World Lineman Supplement. For more profiles of linemen, look for our “Spotlight on the Line Trade” series, which is featured in our Lineman Life enewsletters, which are sent to our subscribers on the first and third Fridays of each month. If you are interested in being profiled in our monthly Lifeline department or know of a journeyman lineman who would be a good candidate, email T&D World Field Editor Amy Fischbach at [email protected]

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