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Bird's Eye View

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Bird's Eye View

CVTC offers power distribution class to co-op support staff

Image: Bird's Eye View

Jeni Thorpe, executive assistant and Human Resources officer at Eau Claire Energy Co-op, learns about using tools of the trade during the EPD: Bird’s Eye View course offered at Chippewa Valley Technical College.

To the untrained ear, it might sound like a different language. But to Jeni Thorpe, executive assistant and Human Resources officer at Eau Claire Energy Cooperative, all the words Bandi Henke was saying during the recent Electrical Power Distribution course made sense. The hands-on process is what Thorpe was eager to learn.

Henke, an electrical power distribution instructor with Chippewa Valley Technical College, began offering a week-long power distribution overview called EPD: Bird’s Eye View to co-op staff so they understand the job of their organization’s line workers.

“Typically the office staff is the heart of the operation,” Henke said. “They get the calls and alert the linemen to the issues. If the staff understands more about what the linemen do, the whole operation will run more smoothly.”

Thorpe, of Whitehall, who has been working for the co-op for three years, said she had no background in an energy-related field.

“This class is the first brush I’ve had with anything related to energy other than flipping a switch in my house,” she joked.

And, of course, that’s not entirely true. She works for a company that deals in energy, after all.
Since she began working for the energy co-op, she’s volunteer to go on power shortage calls, she’s been with crew members during bucket truck rescues.

“I don’t know how many people are going out in the middle of the night with the crew to watch them retire and overhead line over the interstate,” she said.

Thorpe has been eager to learn.

This course has been designed for people like her – electrical power employees who have the desire to gain knowledge and basic principles of electric line construction and maintenance. Throughout the week there is classroom discussion and field demonstrations, which Henke says provides those employees the opportunity to get a thorough understanding of the tools, equipment, materials, troubleshooting and construction procedures commonly used by line personnel.

Claire Lindstrom, CVTC Business development and Continuing Education specialist, said the program was created and developed from scratch to fit specific requests.

“As the course was pulled together, we realized just how many people at each of these energy cooperatives could benefit from a training like this,” Lindstrom said. “We are in the process of impacting almost 40 people this spring with this training, and we have the opportunity to continue doing this as these organizations grow.

“There will always be new people to learn the basics of electric line construction and maintenance.”

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