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An Elevated Work Ethic

CEC employees take service to another level

June 2024

(Photo courtesy Flynn Gladden, Community Electric Cooperative)

by Gregg MacDonald, Staff Writer

AN ELECTRIC UTILITY LINEWORKER’S JOB IS NEVER FINISHED. In addition to digging holes, using augers and setting utility poles, they also install, maintain, and repair electrical distribution and transmission systems. This includes conduits, cables, wires and equipment, such as transformers, circuit breakers and switches.

In this photo, Eric Galford, top left, a journeyman lineman and apparatus technician apprentice, and Serviceman Tony Duck, both of Community Electric Cooperative, are servicing the Pagan electric substation in Smithfield, Va.

The substation takes its name from the Pagan River, a 12.5-mile-long tributary of the James River located in Isle of Wight County. The Town of Smithfield sits on its banks. The river’s name is thought to derive from the Algonquin word for pecan. Many historical accounts claim that in the early 17th century there were abundant pecan trees along the river.

The photo was taken from a drone operated by Engineering Supervisor Flynn Gladden, another CEC employee, who has been flying drones for more than 20 years. “We were doing regulator changeouts,” says Galford of the photo. “We were isolating the regulators and heating up the transfer bus. The switches wouldn’t operate from the ground so we took buckets up and lubricated them.”

For the uninitiated, a transfer bus is generally comprised of induction motors connected to an alternate power source in a power plant or substation and is used when the normal power source fails or needs to be tripped to ensure the continuity of plant operation.

“We were operating the switches and lubricating them so they would work,” says Duck, who will celebrate 33 years working for CEC in December. “I generally work fixing security lights and answering trouble calls for outdoor lights, so I was happy to help out on this one.”

CEC, located in Windsor, Va., was created in 1938 to provide electrical service in Southeastern Virginia’s rural areas. Over the last 15 years, the co-op has recorded a growth rate of roughly 1.5% per year in the number of meters connected. Today, it serves more than 11,000 accounts over its 1,590 miles of distribution line.