Educational Initiative Aims To Boost Ranks Of Utility Linemen

Utility worker checks on stoplight in Solon (pic: Brian Bull)
Utility worker checks on stoplight in Solon (pic: Brian Bull)
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The two-year program is a joint effort between the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company – a subsidiary of FirstEnergy – and Cuyahoga Community College.

FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin says the program ended three years ago as linemen delayed retirement because of the recession. But with the economy on the rebound and those positions now looking more likely to open in the near future, Durbin says it’s back online. He says linemen are important in making sure the lights stay on for customers in any number of situations.

“They go out and they work in weather that could be severe at times," says Durbin. "Usually up in the middle of very strong winds or when there’s snow in the ground. Also takes a unique person to want to work 50 feet above the ground with 13,000 volts of electricity near you. So it’s not for everybody, but for those who want to be linemen, it can be a very rewarding career. ”

Durbin says beginning salaries can be in the $50,000 a year range.

The end goal is enroll a new class of prospective lineman for the fall of 2015, with the expectation they’ll graduate and be ready to maintain power lines across FirstEnergy’s six state region by 2017.

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