On my first call as an apprentice, I was sent out to a remote site to splice submarine cable. On that job, my journeyman became a lifelong friend and role model. That’s what’s great about this trade — the people you meet, the friendships and the bonds that are formed.
Day in the Life
I’m 34 years old, and I’ve been in the trade since 2002. Currently, I am working as a general foreman for Electric Power Contractors (EPC). My responsibilities are lining out the crews, going over switching ahead of the crew, working with the utility on future projects, and looking at projects and bidding on the jobs.
Currently, our company is working on a 7200 Delta voltage conversion to 12470 Wye. We are completely rebuilding both the overhead and underground system. The new power grid system will be much more efficient, reliable and safer.
Relying on Heavy Equipment
Our line crews depend on excavators to dig trenches and create pole holes in the south-central part of Alaska. We use the excavators to make roads to gain access to rights-of-way and to get our equipment and linemen to remote locations.
In the winter, we also use snow machines for line patrol and to access difficult areas around the state.
Safety is the most important thing we are faced with on the job. In this line of work, there’s always going to be human error, but that’s why you rely on your crew to watch out for one another. There have been many times on the job when a crew member or even an apprentice have pointed out a near-miss so it’s important to listen to and watch out for one another.
I’ve been on many winter storms here in Alaska, where the wind chill and temperatures can reach -40°F. Typically these storms are short, but they are the most brutal conditions I’ve ever seen. The temperatures and winds can last anywhere from a day to a week, and we work around the clock until power is restored. The severe temperatures and wind chill of these storms can freeze up a house in a matter of hours. With the remote locations and large distances we have to cover, these are the hardest and harshest conditions I’ve ever faced. The extreme temperatures make it very difficult to work in and make for life and death situations for the consumers and the crews.
Challenges of Working in Alaska
I really enjoy the diversity, challenge and working all over Alaska. The biggest challenges I face are the weather, terrain and the logistics of working in such a large state. Even though it is a huge sacrifice to be away from home a lot, I am very proud of the work we do and the people who support us.
All the exciting experiences throughout my career have made me the journeyman I am today, and I have learned so much from all the linemen I’ve worked with over the years. I can’t imagine having any other career because of all the rewards, the excitement and pure love of the trade. I would like to thank all retired, current and future linemen. We have a great trade, and it’s up to us to keep it strong.