• Born in Gladstone, Manitoba.
• Married to Donna and has two sons, Jax and Gage.
• Has served as the presiding officer of the local apprenticeship board for power line technicians for the last six years.
• Enjoys winter sports in the Rocky Mountains and spends his free time in the summers in British Columbia.
• Serves as a steering committee member of the Transmission Distribution Maintenance Management Association
During my high school days, I did not know a lot about the electric utility industry or the rewarding career of a power line technician. When I was playing Junior B hockey in 1999, however, a former Manitoba Hydro employee told me about some open utility crew laborer positions for the summer. I was hired on with Manitoba Hydro and stayed until I completed my apprenticeship as a power line technician. In 2001, my wife and I moved to Calgary, Alberta, and I started working in the Alberta utility industry. Looking back, I realized how lucky I was to be introduced to this trade.
Day in the Life
Reducing unplanned outage time is the focus for all linemen. We do what we can to keep the lights on. As a transmission facilities specialist (TFS), my focus within AltaLink Management Ltd. is to perform quality checks and acceptance, and commission our infrastructure on new line EPC builds and in-house line-maintenance projects. I make weekly visits to check in and inspect all facets of construction from material/hardware audits and structure installation to final stringing acceptance of lines in our southern Alberta service territory. I also spend one out of every three weeks on trouble response calls. I enjoy this type of work, because I can call upon my experience and knowledge to come up with a solution to find and repair a problem.
About 20 years ago, I was fortunate to be a part of a Manitoba Hydro contingent to go out on the “Ice Storm of the Century.” It was incredible to see the damage caused throughout Ontario and Québec. When we arrived on site, the weather was quite nice compared to our typical Manitoba weather. During the month we were there, we salvaged and rebuilt portions of the distribution system in the affected regions. Because of the lack of availability of conductor, we spent days chopping conductor out from under the ice and re-installing it on new structures. We all felt great satisfaction when we were able to energize a tap and to see the sincere gratitude of the residents who had been without power for weeks. It made us feel proud that we were able to help out during this devastating event.
Building for the Future
One of the biggest challenges is keeping up with the immense build we have had underway. The number of new lines built is incredible, and keeping tabs on all projects spread around the province has kept us hopping. I work closely with our line crews and engineering staff to ensure we are constructing a long-lasting, maintenance-free facility.
Our new 500-kV, 240-kV and 138-kV structures are very robust and should be able to handle whatever Mother Nature has in store for us. We also implement anti-cascading or storm structures within our line design to harden the system in the event of a storm.
We have implemented the use of Digital X-ray technology to verify the quality of our compression fittings. This technology is instrumental in identifying many improper installations and discovering both installer error and manufacturer abnormalities. The crews welcome this level of assurance, especially when they are riding the conductor on carts as part of the line build.
Working as a Team
I am lucky to have skilled and knowledgeable coworkers on my team. Within our asset management group, we have an immense amount of workforce experience. I count on these guys to help me out in all kinds of situations. There is usually someone within our company who has had experience with an issue, and it can usually be solved quite quickly.
Life in the Trade
I have met so many fantastic linemen from all over the world. Essentially, all my friends outside of work are linemen. It seems we have similar interests and are the same type of person. To me, there is no better trade in the world.