Lineworker Training5 min read
By Zachary Hoffman, Manager of Communications and Publications
Electricity is the lifeblood of the nation, and properly trained lineworkers help to keep it flowing.
With 2,000 public power communities in 49 states and five U.S. territories, millions of Americans depend on municipal electric systems to keep the lights on. Proper training of public power lineworkers is important for ensuring that they are up to date on technology, safety practices, climbing techniques and more, as they work to provide outstanding service to those communities.
Since the mid-1980s, AMP’s Lineworker Training Program has helped to train more than 1,000 lineworkers from 86 AMP member communities in six states.
Beginning as a course through the Ohio Public Power Education Institute (OPPEI), AMP eventually folded the training program in as an AMP service to be offered across the member footprint. The program has grown considerably since its early beginnings and now encompasses its own dedicated facility with an outdoor training yard for setting and climbing poles.
The program has helped to enhance safety and create greater system reliability and customer satisfaction for participating utilities by teaching apprentice and journeyman lineworkers some of the latest trends and techniques in the industry.
Broad support of the program on the part of AMP’s member communities and the Board of Trustees has made it possible for the organization to provide a training staff filled with industry experts:
- Scott McKenzie, director of member training and safety
- Bob Bowman, instructor/safety coordinator
- Jim Eberly, safety/OSHA compliance coordinator
- Chad Culbert, senior circuit rider and general safety coordinator
- Brandon Fields, senior circuit rider and general safety coordinator
- Doug Sturgeon, manager of member training and safety
- Guest journeymen lineworkers from various AMP member communities
AMP’s trainers, who combined have more than 140 years of experience, have a great deal of knowledge to impart.
“I started as an entry-level groundworker 34 years ago and I’ve worked in the public power industry ever since,” McKenzie said. “It’s been a very rewarding career and has provided me many lessons and accomplishments in the industry. Those experiences have provided me with insight and knowledge that I can now pass along to others in the field.”
The experience of AMP’s trainers helps to provide lineworkers across the member footprint with a top-tier training experience. These courses cover different experience levels, including groundworker training, apprenticeship training, journeyman training and more. The full list of training opportunities for the 2022 calendar year can be found in the AMP Technical Services Training Brochure on the AMP website.
AMP’s training programs provide AMP member communities with access to high-quality, training opportunities, both in the field and the classroom. Courses run in conjunction with a nationally accredited educational program through the Northwest Lineman College (NLC) and place a strong emphasis on safe work practices, teamwork, leadership and performing skilled work at elevated heights.
For many AMP member communities, these high-quality training courses are one of very few options and help to make a difference in the development of their lineworkers.
“With a system of our size, there are not a lot of opportunities for hands-on experience, which can make it hard to train someone,” said Jeremy Drennen, Philippi city manager. “Having this asset in AMP — which offers a world-class training program — gives us the ability to keep our lineworkers seasoned and knowledgeable, while also helping us to get apprentices trained and certified. Without AMP’s training offerings, I don’t know what we would do.”
While many utilities struggle to find an adequate training program for their lineworkers, AMP’s training program provides an affordable, accessible alternative for members. Public power lineworkers from AMP member communities can travel to Columbus to learn how to perform linework safely, efficiently and effectively. Additionally, AMP provides many training opportunities that are held in member communities and trainings available online.
Linework is a profession that requires extensive training and dedication. It is the goal of AMP’s expert training staff to give each lineworker the knowledge they need to be successful in their career.
“The need for qualified electric lineworkers cannot be overstated,” Bowman said. “The lineworker’s skills at performing a very dangerous job is vital. One wrong move can lead to a life-changing event for a lineworker and their family. Training is critical in keeping these individuals’ skills honed so that they can perform their jobs safely.”
Proper training enables best practices to become second nature to a lineworker, helping them to go to work with the confidence and insight necessary to do their job safely. Whether a training course covers groundwork or advanced linework, AMP’s trainers always put safety at the forefront of each topic.
Trainers are continuously on the lookout for the latest practices and trends, working to update training opportunities and ensure that they continue to align with best practices and meet member needs.
Recently, AMP’s trainers have worked to coordinate classroom and field exercises to better align with the NLC’s curriculum and have enhanced AMP’s training facility with key tactile learning type transformer and grounding simulators.
“The electric industry is a fast-paced, ever-changing career field, and we work diligently to bring participants the most up-to-date and relevant safety and training techniques in the industry,” McKenzie said. “There will forever be the need for lineworkers to maintain and build power systems, both overhead and underground. With proper training, we hope to help lineworkers in the AMP member footprint attain a long, rewarding and prosperous career in public power.”
To learn more about AMP’s Lineworker Training program or other training opportunities, visit the Technical Services page of the AMP website. If you have questions about AMP’s Lineworker Training Program, please contact Scott McKenzie at [email protected].