Employee Spotlight: Kevin Schneider
Kevin Schneider is a foreman. He has worked for KEC for nearly 24 years.
What made you interested in line work?
My father-in-law was a lineman for 40 years at Pacific Power and Light (a large electric utility in the Northwest) and I learned about the trade from him.
How did you train to prepare for work in this field?
To get started I did an apprenticeship through the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee in Portland that took about three years. During this time, I worked with a line construction contractor in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. After finishing my apprenticeship, I went to work for KEC.
What does a day look like for you as a foreman?
When I arrive at work in the morning, I pick up the jobs for the crew I oversee. Then the crew meets to discuss the job and collect all the necessary materials and equipment. Once we arrive at the job site, we conduct a safety briefing, which includes discussion about the hazards of the job, traffic, etc. Then we get to work.
How were you involved in the FEMA projects?
After the wind and snowstorms of 2015, KEC was awarded more than $10 million in special grant funding from FEMA to convert approximately 50 miles of our most problematic overhead lines to underground. KEC hired contractors to complete much of this work and KEC staff served as inspectors for the jobs. There were more than 20 separate jobs, and I served as the inspector of the job on the south side of Mica near Lake Coeur d’Alene. This was an approximately 5.6-mile-long project that involved relocating and replacing overhead power lines with an underground power line and reconductoring the remaining overhead power lines.
What were you responsible for as a FEMA inspector?
In addition to answering contractor questions, the inspector is also present on-site for construction to ensure the work is done to KEC specifications. During this time, I worked 50 hours a week for several months.
What is KEC doing to keep its employees safe at work?
KEC has a robust safety program and a safety director who is responsible for running the program. Prior to COVID-19 the crews had monthly safety meetings. For now, that has been replaced with online training. We also conduct pole top and bucket truck rescues annually. Right now, we are also keeping crews separated and staggering start times to reduce the risk of COVID-19.
Tell us about the culture on the crews.
Besides a strong safety culture, we pride ourselves on getting a lot of work done and providing exceptional service, especially during outages. A strong work ethic and a safety mindset are important characteristics when we consider new employees.
What is the biggest challenge in your job?
As crews we often have to switch gears quickly when an outage occurs during the day when we are working on another project. However, that’s life at an electric utility.
What is the best part of your job?
I get to go to work with a group of like-minded coworkers every day.