Join us as IBEWHourPower travels to the frozen plains of Rhinelander, Wisconsin to see how IBEW members from IBEW Local 369 and IBEW Local 876 are converting and upgrading 90 miles of overhead electrical lines to underground power lines. Often working in the harshest of conditions, the IBEW is modernizing the electric distribution system and reducing the number of power outages in these rural areas.
This project exemplifies the value and attitude that the IBEW local brings to every project. The local electricians working in Rhinelander, apprentice and journeyman alike provide a highly skilled and trained work force dedicated to safety and doing the job right.
Transcript – Converting overhead electrical lines to underground power lines
Many IBEW jobs are not only easy to see, they are downright hard to miss. Everything from stadiums to hospitals to power plants to data centers to you name it – the IBEW brand is in evidence all across North America. But then there’s work – just as impressive – that you never know is there.
Here on this Wisconsin prairie the power lines are being taken underground so power can flow under this snow and grass. But to move 90 miles of lines underground is no small feat. This project isn’t the kind of thing you can do in a day…
Kevin Shaffer, Vice President, Great Lakes Region, SPE – WERE IN THE FIRST YEAR OF THE FIVE-YEAR PROJECT. SO THEY ARE PLANNING ON CONTINUING FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS. TAKING APPROXIMATELY 90 MILES OF OVERHEAD CONSTRUCTION AND MAKING IT UNDERGROUND AND THEN REMOVING THE OVERHEAD CONSTRUCTION. BY GOING TO AN UNDERGROUND SYSTEM WPS IS HOPING THAT TO ELIMINATE THE ISSUES WITH THE VEGETATION MANAGEMENT BY GOING TO ALL UNDERGROUND.
So what is this project all about? Wisconsin Public Service is modernizing parts of its electric distribution system by burying or upgrading lines. And Phase One…is taking all these lines down. Lines that are primarily in rural areas that are heavily forested.
Eric Dircdillahumdy, Journeyman Lineman, IBEW Local 369 – RIGHT NOW WE ARE WRECKING OUT ALONG POST LAKE ITS PART OF THE SMRP PROJECT. COMING THROUGH, DOING RELIABILITY WORK. PUTTING ALL THE UNDERGROUND UTILITIES IN AND ELIMINATING THE OVERHEAD POWER LINES. KINDA CUT DOWN ALL THE OUTAGES THAT THEY HAVE UP HERE IN THE STORM SEASONS.
And Phase Two, WPS will also be upgrading any existing lines and taking lines underground. So why is this job important?
C.J. Carlson, Jr., General Foreman, IBEW Local 876 – THIS JOB IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE FOR RELIABILITY. THEY ARE HAVING PROBLEMS WITH THESE RESORT TOWNS WITH A LOT OF TREES KNOCKING OUT POWER LINES.
And with any job, there are always challenges. It has been below zero on several days out here in Rhinelander Wisconsin.
C.J. Carlson, Jr., General Foreman, IBEW Local 876 – I GOT MEN FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY OUT HERE. SOME OF THEM HAVE NEVER SEEN SNOW THIS DEEP OR COLD.
Darren Thomas, SMRP Project Safety Coordinator, Integrys SAFETY OFFICIALS YOU KNOW ARE OUT HERE FULL FORCE JUST TO MAKE SURE THESE INDIVIDUALS STAY SAFE ARE ABLE TO FUNCTION WITHOUT FROSTBITE FROM THE EXTREME CONDITIONS. SO ARE ACTUALLY ENCOURAGE THESE INDIVIDUALS TO TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS.
Despite the cold, these men still seem to love their jobs.
Greg Sylvester, Journeyman, IBEW Local 2150 – I LOVE WHAT I DO; I LOVE THIS KIND OF WORK. YOU WALK UP TO A PROJECT AND YOU WORK THROUGH IT WITH YOUR CREW. YOU WATCH OUT FOR ONE AND OTHER AND AS A TEAM WHEN YOU LEAVE THE JOB IS DONE SAFELY. I’M PROUD OF WHAT I DO.
With several years to go on this project and as you can see on this map here how far it reaches and how many areas need to be taken care of. It’s no wonder IBEW workers have been picked to do the job.
Darren Thomas, SMRP Project Safety Coordinator, Integrys – I THINK THE IBEW STANDS FOR TRUE AMERICAN VALUES NUMBER ONE. NUMBER TWO THE TRAINING ASPECT OF IT AND THREE YOU DEFINITELY HAVE A NATIONWIDE ORGANIZATION THAT ACTUALLY OFFERING SOME OF THE BEST RESOURCES IN THE WORLD, AMERICAN WORKERS.
And the contractor wouldn’t have it any other way.
Kevin Shaffer, Vice President, Great Lakes Region, SPE – IBEW PROVIDES US A VERY HIGHLY SKILLED AND VERY WELL TRAINED WORK FORCE. THEY ARE VERY SAFE. SAFETY IS THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY OF OUR JOBS AND THE IBEW PROVIDES US WITH A VERY SAFE HIGHLY SKILLED WORKFORCE.
For IBEWHourPower, This is Erica McClaugherty