Okmulgee's High Voltage School

Thursday, October 26th 2006, 10:10 am
By: News On 6

One of the first things to get knocked down by storms are power lines and power poles. One of the few colleges in the country that teaches how to put them back up is OSU-Okmulgee.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg took time on Thursday to go to high voltage school.

If you want to climb the career ladder in high voltage, better bring your spikes and some courage. "First time you get up there 10 foot, and you're only 10 foot off the ground and it looks a lot further than that from up there." Derek Logan is in his second year at OSU's High Voltage School.

Now Derek goes 30 feet off the ground without a second thought. They train with bucket trucks too, but there are lots of places trucks can't go.

"We really want them to climb first, because like if they work in Tulsa, there's so much alley work they have to do, they've got to know how to climb." And Gene Nunn with OSU-Okmulgee says you can move up fast in line work. 50-percent of the nation's 400,000 line workers are reaching retirement age soon. And utility companies are desperate for workers. "We've got 33 companies asking for students, and we can't even come close to filling all the positions they're asking for."

Once they get the hang of hanging on, they work on multiple types of equipment, from multiple kinds of companies. Gene Nunn: "We show them co-op construction, OG&E construction, PSO construction. There are so many different ways, so many different aspects of the whole job, there's just a lot of different things to do, so we have to show 'em all."

They don't run actual power through the lines for liability reasons, but every once in a while, just to keep them on their toes, they pull a little trick and plug in a dog fence charger. Gene Nunn: "Keeps 'em honest, instead of laying across it, we want them to get bit just a little bit. It won't kill them or anything, but it keeps them honest where they know they have to keep their rubber goods on to stay protected."

Derek Logan has gotten a bite from the dog fence before. "I just accidentally hit my leg on that secondary and buzzed me a little bit. You know it pretty quick." Steve Berg: "I guess that's a good lesson to learn now though?" Derek Logan: "It's a lot better doing that low voltage than it is that high."