Employee Spotlight: Preston Jerome

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Preston Jerome is an Electro Technician and has worked for KEC for 16 years.

What made you interested in working for KEC? How did you train for work in this field?

I started out in the telecommunications industry, installing overhead and underground telephone lines. I learned the trade on the job. It was a natural progression to move into the electric utility industry. I was hired at KEC as a temporary groundman and was able to move into a permanent apprentice position. From there I became a journeyman lineman and worked in that role for about 13 years. More recently I was hired as an electro technician.

What does a day look like for you as an electro technician at KEC?

You might be wondering: what is an electro technician? KEC’s electro technicians are responsible for the maintenance, repair, testing and installation and removal of equipment such as meters, reclosers, regulators, relays and more. We are also responsible for substation and equipment inspections, power quality investigations and the fabrication, wiring and installation of other specialty equipment.

KEC has three electro technicians, and we work in the engineering department. We are all also journeyman linemen, but have additional training to work as electro technicians. I’m proud to be a part of this team and that our work directly improves member reliability.

Tell us about our current facility’s electro technician area. What are you looking forward to about the new headquarters?

We’ve simply outgrown our current area. Right now, when testing or maintaining equipment, it must be moved to several locations, including outdoors, due to lack of space. This slows down the maintenance of equipment and makes it a real challenge to keep up with the high volume of work associated with the growth in North Idaho. With our new headquarters we will have a larger shop space with an overhead crane to work on different types of equipment simultaneously. This will allow us to safely handle equipment and gain efficiencies.

What is the biggest challenge in your job?

Staying abreast of new and emerging technologies is a big challenge as we upgrade equipment to provide more reliable service to our members. We have a remarkable team and I enjoy the focus we have on maintenance and installing new specialty equipment to provide dependable power and to meet the needs of future growth.

The cool thing about my job is I also work as an on-call lineman. This allows me to respond to power outages, which is something I enjoy. One day I might be boating across the lake to make repairs and thinking about how the fisherman must be enjoying the day. A few months later I may be chopping through the ice to boat to the same location. There is always something new to troubleshoot and overcome. That’s why I love this job and thank God for these opportunities, awesome coworkers and the ability to support my family.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is it changes day to day, and I enjoy the variety it allows. I enjoy working with members to troubleshoot and repair power quality issues. It’s satisfying when issues are resolved. I’m also thankful for the tools and equipment KEC provides the crews to improve outage response times. I remember hiking up Mica Peak numerous times with snowshoes while packing heavy tools, grounds, ropes, wire and climbing gear. Now we have a snow machine to haul equipment and workers in half the time or less.

Since day one at KEC, I have always been proud of how we put the members first. The cooperative upgrades equipment to better serve the members and supports safe work practices. It’s great to know that KEC is looking out for the members and employees.