At the Floyd D. Johnson Technology Center, a high school lineworker program is empowering young adults pursuing careers in utilities. Don Hamrick, a retired lineman from Duke Energy, oversees the program, using his extensive knowledge in the industry to prepare students for entry level jobs. York Electric has played a pivotal role in the Utility Line Worker program.
In 2019, York School District and Clover School District partnered with Comporium, Duke Energy and York Technical College, receiving a grant for line equipment and a bucket truck. Since then, six students from each school district, totaling 12 students each year, have joined the program, which emphasizes practical skills and safety in utility operations. This year, ten students will graduate with the equivalent knowledge and experience of an apprentice lineman.
The curriculum is comprehensive, covering the operation of line trucks, skid steers, bucket trucks and mini excavators. Both in and out of the classroom, students experience the daily life of a line worker. They learn to climb utility poles, understand safety protocols and explore various aspects of utility work, including both overhead and underground maintenance. However, the program extends beyond technical skills, incorporating instruction on metering, billing and accounting, providing a holistic view on utility company operations.
Program participants assume the role of apprentices, ensuring a smooth transition to the workforce upon graduation. Local linemen rodeos offer students the opportunity to network with potential employers. Program alumni have accepted offers from several utility companies, including Williams Electric Company, Pike Electric, Duke Energy and YEC. One graduate pursued linework in west Texas, highlighting the program’s broad reach and demand for skilled linemen apprentices.
Hamrick describes the importance of contributions from local companies, stating that YEC has been instrumental to the program’s success.
“When I came on my first day, we had nothing, absolutely nothing. The co-op brought us unused transformers, insulators, materials and poles,” he recalls.
The most recent contribution, a used line truck, constitutes a crucial addition and a testament to YEC’s commitment to the program’s growth. Mirroring industry standards, the line truck promises a realistic and valuable experience for the students who will use this equipment every day in the field.
“I never planned on teaching after retirement,” Hamrick says, “but I’m sure glad I decided to. This program has been rewarding in so many ways for me and the students.”
by Emma Sutton
Why we trim
Maintaining right-of-way around power lines not only helps eliminate trees and branches that could cause an outage, but it also helps us reach our equipment quickly to repair damages and get the lights back on for members. Go to our right-of-way page for the current maintenance schedule and a map showing when we will be in your area. Thank you for your understanding as we make these necessary cuts and trims to keep your lights on.