Chad Hall is a Lead Lineman and has worked for KEC for 19 years.
What made you interested in line work? How did you train for work in this field?
My dad worked as a hard rock miner and had a coworker who changed careers and became a lineman. He told me about line work. Although I started out doing an electrician apprenticeship, I changed course after one year and went to Avista’s line school. From there I worked for several line construction contractors until getting hired on at KEC as a hot apprentice and moved into a journeyman lineman role within two months.
What does a day look like for you as a lead lineman?
After working many years as a Journeyman Lineman, I was promoted to lead lineman about two years ago. In this role, I lead a three-man or make permanent crew, which includes a journeyman lineman and operator. You will see in the General Manager's Message in the October Newsletter, Doug outlines the difference between a three-man crew and a heavy crew.
Most of the work my crew does is make temporary electric services permanent. We also do “line drops” when needed. Usually, line drops are needed when a member or tree contractor is trimming trees and needs power turned off so they can complete their work safely. My crew’s smaller size also allows us to be more mobile than a heavy crew, so we are often the first to be sent out on outages. A heavy crew may be setting a pole or working near a road with traffic flaggers, making it challenging for them to leave a job.
Tell us about the make permanent process.
New construction projects begin with a temporary electric service. You may have seen this when a new house is being built, it includes a temporary pole and meter. Once the house construction is nearly complete, the builder or contractor contacts KEC to request permanent service. That’s when my crew gets involved. We go to the site and install conduit from the transformer to the meter on the house. With all the building and growth in our area my crew stays very busy with this work—even in the winter.
What is the biggest challenge in your job?
It is a challenge to stay ahead of all the make permanent service work with so much new construction happening right now. Maintaining good working relationships with builders and contractors is essential as I coordinate with them to ensure our work gets done on time and there is room for my crew to do our work. Work sites are often congested with traffic, subcontractors and materials. Coordinating this can be a time-consuming part of my job and we don’t want to slow down any construction projects.
We are always looking for ways to be more efficient and improve our processes. Recently, on some projects, we have changed our process to dig and install the conduit underground immediately after the foundation of a house is poured. Then we concrete anchor the meter to the foundation, so we don’t have to dig a trench and install conduit later, which involves digging around the houses, eves and contractors.
What is the best part of your job?
KEC and my co-workers are the best part of the job. KEC takes care of its employees. We have the tools we need and a group that cares about their work. I look forward to my job every morning and that’s a pretty nice feeling.