Employee Spotlight: Dennis Wanous

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Dennis Wanous is a foreman and has worked for  KEC for 10 years.

What made you interested in working for KEC?

My older brother is a lineman and I wanted to find a career that would allow me to provide well for my family. The first several years of my career I worked for line construction contractors across the Northwest—at times driving up to 1,000 miles a week. I grew up in Bonner County near Cocolalla, so when the opportunity to work for KEC as a 6th step apprentice came up, I jumped at the chance to move closer to home. I was promoted to journeyman lineman after a year at KEC and then about a year ago I was promoted to foreman.

Tell us about your crew’s main focus.

My crew primarily works on new construction electric installation or electric service modifications, such as when a member builds a shop or needs power rerouted. If over the course of a day there is an outage that needs to be repaired we may be called off the job to work on restoration.

Are you seeing an increase in outages caused by accidents?

Yes, we are seeing more outages that happen after the public forgets to call 811. In one day alone last summer my crew repaired the damage from two of these dig in accidents. 811 is a free service in Kootenai County that locates underground wires and lines up to KEC’s meter. Call 811 at least 48 hours before digging or excavating. After making this call the locations of underground utility-owned wires and lines will be marked. This prevents digging equipment from hitting or cutting off power, water, phone, cable or gas lines. Accidental contact with a line can result in serious injury and possibly death. Damages to these lines can disrupt service to an entire neighborhood and could include fines and repair costs.

Car vs. pole accidents are another cause of large and lengthy outages. Sometimes the outage can be isolated, and members can be served from another substation during repairs. If the pole is significantly damaged and needs to be replaced, it is costly and can take a crew 8-10 hours to repair.

What is something you wish more members knew?

During outages it’s best not to approach crews or utility vehicles if you see them around your neighborhood. We understand that everyone would like to know when power will be restored, but, in reality, these distractions are dangerous and delay power restoration.

Our goal is to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. We work to get the job done while sharing information with our dispatchers so members can be updated. Visit www.kec.com/outage-center or follow us on Facebook to stay informed during outages. You can also receive text alerts with the latest updates about outages affecting your service. Log in to your SmartHub account to sign up.

What is the biggest challenge in your job?

KEC currently employs eight crews—up from five crews about five years ago. These crews are needed to help manage the growth in our area. Ensuring those new employees are up to speed on our mission to provide our members exceptional service and dependable electric power at competitive rates is something we take seriously. This ensures we maintain the culture we expect at KEC.

What is the best part of your job?

After working for a line construction contractor, I prefer working for a cooperative and in our community. I also appreciate the connection I get to have with KEC members each day in my work.