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Learning the Ropes and More

Lineworker training center is at the heart of Powerful Careers

September 2022

by Laura Emery, Staff Writer

Outside of the Electric Cooperative Training Center building in Palmyra, Va., there is a lot of playful joking among 13 graduates. While they prepare to part ways after four years of on-and-off training together, they’re aware that their paths may cross during a storm later down the line.

Teaching a class at the Electric Cooperative Training Center in Palmyra, Va. PHOTO BY LAURA EMERY

In fact, graduate Aaron Clark is counting on it. “I love the camaraderie with everyone. It’s been great meeting these guys and learning alongside them,” the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative lineworker says.

The graduates, who represent electric cooperatives and municipal utilities, recently graduated from apprentice to journeyman status following completion of thousands of hours of extensive training.

They completed their final Line Technician Apprentice Program-Step 8 class at the state-of-the-art training center, which is owned and operated by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives.

Since it opened in 2019, 105 apprentice lineworkers have completed the program; another 413 are still in training. More than 100 line technicians, substation technicians and system operators also have graduated from Palmyra, as the center is known.

Clark has nothing but positive things to say about the program. “This was a good program to go through. You not only learn more about the trade but there is a strong focus on job safety. Job safety is the number one priority in our line of work because I want to go home to my family and be sure that the guys I work with go home to their families as well,” he says.

To achieve journeyman status, lineworkers must complete 8,000 hours of classroom and on-the-job training. Alan Scruggs, the Association’s vice president of safety, training and education, says the program incorporates climbing skills, knowledge of electricity, underground and substation work, safety and leadership, among other topics.

Howard Hipp has been with NOVEC for a little over three years. “I enjoyed the program and learned a lot. Our apprenticeship is four years long; every six months we come to the class for a week. It’s a total of eight weeks over the course of four years,” he says.

For more, visit vmdaec.com/powerfulcareers.