Wes Jones has worked in the construction and maintenance of power lines for the past 30 years.

Lineworker Focus: Wes Jones

Jan. 17, 2024
Wes Jones has worked in the construction and maintenance of power lines for the past 30 years.

Philippi Municipal Electric

  • Born in Philippi, West Virginia, to Bill and Anne Jones. Has one brother, Eddie.
  • Has two daughters, Kaitlin, 23, and Kory, 19.
  • Enjoys spending time with his family, working on his property, doing new projects around the house and going on annual family vacations.
  • Got inspired by Ronnie Ball and Jerry Purdham to work in the line trade. None of his relatives have worked for the power industry—only friends. 

Early Years

In 1992, I started working for Davis H. Elliot as a groundman. I mostly dug hand holes for poles and anchors. I also bonded the pole ground to the neutral off of hooks. 

Day in the Life

Fast forward 31 years, and I am the superintendent for Philippi Municipal Electric. My main responsibilities are to keep the lights on in our town from the delivery of our feed to the meter base. We operate with three different distribution voltages: 25 kV, 12.5 kV, and 4 kV. My typical workday starts at 5 a.m., dealing with streetlights, substation voltage checks, services, random outages, vehicle maintenance and right-of-way issues. 

On the Job

We are currently installing 700 ft of 25 kV three-phase underground to a 1000 kVA padmount transformer for a business in our town. We are also looking to do a conversion job from 12.5 kV to 25 kV in the northern part of Phillipi.

Safety Lesson

The importance of job-site safety that sticks with me is when Hurricane Fran hit in 1996. Power was out, and lines were down for miles. I was working for Pike Electric on the CP&L system. There was a single dusk-to-dawn light burning by itself with no electric for miles around. My foreman told all of us to wear rubber gloves on everything we touched because people were using generators, and they were backfeeding the downed lines. That really opened my eyes up on how easily you could get hurt or killed.

Memorable Storm

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy came up the Allegheny Mountains and brought winds never seen before by our small town. We lost our feed from First Energy for six days. Our system suffered many broken poles and downed power lines. I called in mutual aid from a Kentucky municipal, and we worked together for five days. I stayed in my office without power. Mutual aid left before First Energy had the 138 kV feed back on. The storm started with rain and wind, followed by hot and muggy days.

Challenges and Rewards

It’s just me and my coworker who serve 2,000 customers, which can be a challenge. The reward is that you can go home knowing that you served your customers well and that nobody is without power, and most importantly, everyone is safe.

Tools and Technology

I couldn't perform my job without my Klein pocket knife, waypoint spotlight and my Milwaukee crimper. Battery-powered tools will be the future in line work. Old squeeze tools have ruined many lineworkers’ shoulders, including mine. Remote cutters for URD lines will increase the safety of the lineworkers and the public.

Life in the Line Trade

With every job comes the good and the bad, but I have enjoyed many of years of working with great people in the lineworker industry. Some have come and gone, and I miss them dearly. You get a great deal of pride knowing that you are a part of a group of people who serve America. I think about past experiences and focus on new ones. Every day is different. The most important thing is for your pole buddy and yourself to go home safely every day. 

Future Plans

The future is unknown for me. I am able to retire in 45 months. Whatever happens down the road, I'm sure I will still point at some pole or line from Florida to Michigan and say, "I helped build that! "


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