Carteret-Craven EC invests in future of energy workforce through Line Technician Camp

Lineworkers from North Carolina’s electric aren’t just committed to powering the lives of their communities, they’re also determined to give back through programs that are building the future of a career field that will serve more than 2.5 million North Carolinians.

For the last three years, Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative (EC) has hosted their Line Technician Camp, a hands-on training event that provides students with a look at the industry by immersing them in the roles and responsibilities of electric utility line technicians. Each high school in the cooperative’s service area can select four students to attend. These juniors and seniors are able to explore a career that is often times observed from the ground, but this camp gives them a birds-eye view and a new outlook on the roles and responsibilities of co-op lineworkers.

Student practices safe pole climbing techniques (Photos courtesy of Carteret-Craven EC)

The demonstrations and lessons are taught by cooperative lineworkers who have spent years serving their communities. For many of these line technicians, they said a day-long experience like this would have been invaluable when they were in high school.

“It would have given me more insight as to what you do on the job each day,” said Jeremy Hart, an apprentice line technician at Carteret-Craven EC. “We hope that by providing them this experience, it opens new doors and opportunities they hadn’t explored beforehand.”

A day in the life

From the moment they arrive, these high school students are greeted with an opportunity to work alongside lineworkers that have spent years training and learning each facet of the job that goes into serving their community with reliable power.

Students are split into crews, beginning their day with a safety briefing just like cooperative lineworkers do before each job.

Attendees start the day with a safety briefing just like cooperative lineworkers (Photos courtesy of Carteret-Craven EC)

“Knowing the proper procedures and safety requirements will keep you safe and help you succeed in any field that you choose,” said Ryan Weston, safety compliance coordinator at Carteret-Craven EC.

Once debriefed and equipped with the right gear, students rotate through stations that include jobs and tasks the lineworkers face each day. These include pole top and bucket rescue, overhead line construction, and underground line construction. Not only do these students carry out each exercise, they also get to speak with experienced line technicians, learning about their journey and what advice they can share.

“I think that it is important for this generation to see the importance of the work that line technicians do every day,” said Michael Garner, a line service technician at Carteret-Craven EC. “We aren’t just here after storms, we are working every day to make sure the electric grid is well maintained so that our members have reliable power.”

Return on investment

While the camp is only in its third year, the cooperative is already seeing the impact it makes. One of the instructors of this year’s event was actually an attendee the year prior.

“I participated in the camp as a student last year, and this year, I worked with the students doing the underground training demonstration,” said Lane Hartman, a service tech assistant at Carteret-Craven EC. “This is a unique opportunity for the students, but it is also a great opportunity for the line workers. It gives us a chance to share our experiences and give advice to the students. I have only worked for CCEC a few months but some of our linemen have been here 25+ years, so there is a lot of knowledge to share.”

While lineworkers serve their communities through providing reliable power, their commitment runs deeper as they are outstanding members in their community that give back through volunteering and education.

“Co-op employees live in the communities that we serve. We want to see our communities thrive,” said Rodney Williams, line crew leader at Carteret-Craven EC. “This camp is a unique opportunity for high school students that not only shows them the importance of line work, but also that great career opportunities exist where they live.”