Lance Teal Lance Teal is a foreman. He has worked for KEC for 13 years.
What made you interested in line work? How did you prepare for work in this field?
I sort of fell into linework and have always enjoyed the trade. I started out at KEC as a groundman and then was able to complete my apprenticeship here too. From there I moved up to a journeyman and now I’ve been a foreman for about a year. Prior to KEC, I worked for a telecommunications company doing construction work for about 12 years.
What does a day look like for you as a foreman at KEC?
The rapid growth in our area is leading to a significant number of new subdivisions. This year alone KEC is working on more than 54 new subdivision projects totaling over 2,100 units. To meet these demands, my crew is responsible for much of the underground new construction work in our service territory. As the foreman, I help organize the jobs and ready the crew for the work. I also coordinate with builders/developers, contractors and other utilities, such as water, sewer, communications/cable and natural gas.
Tell us about the process to get electric utility equipment installed in a subdivision.
It probably isn’t a surprise to anyone in our area that subdivisions large and small are going in all across Kootenai County. The installation of utilities is a big part of the subdivision construction process. The electric “backbone” is used to distribute power throughout the subdivision. The electric backbone process starts when a builder or developer applies for electric service with KEC. A computer aided design (CAD) drawing of the subdivision is generally included with the application showing the subdivision layout and design. From there, one of KEC’s project engineering technicians will take the CAD design and complete a power design for the subdivision. This includes working with KEC’s engineering department to conduct a load calculation to ensure equipment is appropriately sized for current and future growth. Once the power design is complete, KEC works with the builder/developer and municipalities to agree on the electric equipment placement and street lighting. When those details are finalized, KEC’s team uses computer software to determine the equipment needed to complete the project and the cost. A contract is written between KEC and the builder/developer and KEC’s operations department takes over the construction part of the project.
The construction of the electric backbone in a subdivision is a multi-step process. We start by digging trenches across the future streets and placing conduit during excavation so electric services can run across the streets. Once the streets are paved, a main line trench is opened and PVC conduit is placed. Other utilities come in around our conduit and then the trench is backfilled. Once the sidewalks are poured, transformers and splice boxes are placed and then we install the wire. The very last thing we do is put in streetlights. By that time, some of the houses are under construction in the subdivision. My crew can spend up to three months in a subdivision completing construction.
What is the biggest challenge in your job?
Right now, keeping up with the influx of work. Our workload is pretty heavy and requires teamwork and organization to get it all completed.
What is the best part of your job?
From new construction to restoring power during an outage, I find the work very rewarding. My crew and coworkers make my day.