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Emergency Power Systems by State
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Line Installers and Repairers

Line installers and repairers install or repair electrical power systems and telecommunications cables, including fiber optics. Show Details

Duties

Electrical power-line installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Drive work vehicles to job sites
  • Install, maintain, or repair the power lines that move and distribute electricity
  • Identify defective devices, circuit breakers, fuses, voltage regulators, transformers, and switches
  • Inspect and test power lines and auxiliary equipment
  • String power lines between poles, towers, and buildings
  • Climb poles and transmission towers and use truck-mounted buckets to get to equipment
  • Operate power equipment when installing and repairing poles, towers, and lines
  • Follow safety standards and procedures

Telecommunications line installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Drive work vehicles to job sites
  • Install, maintain, or repair telecommunications equipment
  • Inspect or test lines or cables
  • Lay underground cable, including fiber optic lines, directly in trenches
  • Operate power equipment when installing and repairing poles, towers, and lines
  • Set up service for customers

Every time you turn on your lights, call someone on the phone, watch cable television, or access the Internet, you are connecting to complex networks of physical power lines and cables that provide you with electricity and connect you with the outside world. Line installers and repairers, also known as line workers or linemen, are the people who install and maintain these networks.

Line installers and repairers typically specialize, and the areas in which they specialize depend on the network and industry in which they work:

Electrical power-line installers and repairers install and maintain the power grid—the network of power lines that moves electricity from generating plants to customers. They routinely work with high-voltage electricity, which requires extreme caution. This can range from hundreds of thousands of volts for the long-distance transmission lines that make up the power grid to less than 10,000 volts for distribution lines that supply electricity to homes and businesses.

Line workers who maintain the interstate power grid work in crews that travel to work locations throughout a large region to take care of transmission lines and towers. Workers employed by local utilities work mainly with lower voltage distribution lines, maintaining equipment such as transformers, voltage regulators, and switches. They may also work on traffic lights and street lights.

Telecommunications line installers and repairers install and maintain the lines and cables used by local and long-distance telephone services, cable television, the Internet, and other communications networks. These services use different types of cables, including fiber-optic cables. Unlike metallic cables that carry electricity, fiber-optic cables are made of glass or plastic and transmit signals using light. Working with fiber optics requires special skills, such as the ability to splice and finish off optical cables. Additionally, workers test and troubleshoot cables and networking equipment.

Because these systems are so complicated, many line workers also specialize by duty:

Line installers install new cable. They may work for construction contractors, utilities, or telecommunications companies. They generally start a new job by digging underground trenches or putting up utility poles and towers to carry the wires and cables. They use a variety of construction equipment, including digger derricks, which are trucks equipped with augers and cranes used to dig holes in the ground and set poles in place. Line installers also use trenchers, cable plows, and directional bore machines, which are used to cut openings in the earth to lay underground cables. Once the poles, towers, tunnels, or trenches are ready, line installers string cable along poles and towers or through tunnels and trenches.

Line repairers are employed by utilities and telecommunications companies that maintain existing power and telecommunications lines. Maintenance needs may be identified in a variety of ways, including remote monitoring equipment, inspections by airplane or helicopter, and customer reports of service outages. Line repairers often must replace aging or outdated equipment, so many of these workers have installation duties in addition to their repair duties.

When a problem is reported, line repairers must identify the cause and fix it. This usually involves testing equipment and replacing it as necessary. To work on poles, line installers usually use bucket trucks to raise themselves to the top of the structure, although all line workers must be adept at climbing poles and towers when necessary. Workers use special safety equipment to keep them from falling when climbing utility poles and towers.

Storms and other natural disasters can cause extensive damage to networks of power lines. When a connection goes out, line repairers must work quickly to restore service to customers.

Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers

Power plant operators, dispatchers, and distributors control the systems that generate and distribute electric power. Show Details

Duties

Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers typically do the following:

  • Control power-generating equipment, such as boilers, turbines, generators, and reactors
  • Read charts, meters, and gauges to monitor voltage and electricity flows
  • Check equipment and indicators to detect evidence of operating problems
  • Adjust controls to regulate the flow of power
  • Start or stop generators, turbines, and other equipment as necessary

Electricity is one of our nation’s most vital resources. Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers control power plants and the flow of electricity from plants to substations, which distribute electricity to businesses, homes, and factories. Electricity is generated from many sources, including coal, gas, nuclear energy, hydroelectric energy (from water sources), and wind and solar power.

The following are types of power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers:

Nuclear power reactor operators control nuclear reactors. They adjust control rods, which affect how much electricity a reactor generates. They monitor reactors, turbines, generators, and cooling systems, adjusting controls as necessary. Operators also start and stop equipment and record the data. They may need to respond to abnormalities, determine the cause, and take corrective action.

Power distributors and dispatchers, also known as systems operators, control the flow of electricity as it travels from generating stations to substations and users over a network of transmission and distribution lines. They prepare and issue switching orders to route electrical currents around areas that need maintenance or repair. Distributors and dispatchers also monitor and operate current converters, voltage transformers, and circuit breakers. They must detect and respond to emergencies, such as transformer or transmission line failures.

Power plant operators control, operate, and maintain machinery to generate electric power. They use control boards to distribute power among generators and regulate the output from several generators. They regulate the flow of power between generating stations and substations, and they monitor instruments to maintain voltage and electricity flows from the plant.

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