Thursday, October 23, 2014

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National Grid crews training for their line worker certification

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Albany/HV: National Grid crews training for their line worker certification
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While clean up continues following Sandy, National Grid crews are getting vital training needed to prepare for future storms. Our Erin Connolly joined us from Schenectady County with the latest.

SCHENECTADY COUNTY, N.Y. -- National Grid Senior Instructor Derek Quackenbush said, "Responding to storms, working 24/7, on call. We have guys working 18 hours when they're on those storms. It gets tiring and you have to be skilled."

And its storms like Sandy and Irene and Lee that show why proper training is so critical. Thursday, National Grid line workers practiced climbing poles and performed exercises in bucket trucks.

Quackenbush said, "What we do go over here in the school which is most important is how to protect yourself because big storms are dangerous."

Many people, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, have been critical of utility companies in the wake of Sandy. After a storm hits, National Grid workers say they evaluate their performance.

Patrick Stella, the spokesman for National Grid, said, "Every storm is different and each situation creates a whole new set of circumstances and we have to adjust to that while its going on. After the storm, we always look at what we can do differently."

Cuomo has called our electrical system antiquated and mentioned that above ground networks are extremely vulnerable. But those at National Grid say underground line can be up to 10 times more costly and present a host of other problems.

Stella said, "Underground lines can provide more reliability and fewer outages however when there is an outage it takes a lot longer to fix it."

However, Stella does say he agrees with the Governor that the system needs to be upgraded and modernized. Despite the criticism, line workers and instructors say restoring someone’s power is a great task, especially when you're working side by side with other lineman from across the U.S.

Nicholas Colucci, a line worker trainee, said, "You feel real pride in your work. A real sense of accomplishment when you see the job done. There's nothing else like it.”

Quackenbush said, "You could close your eyes and outside of accents you're talking to anyone in your company. It’s amazing. Being a lineman is a brotherhood."

And to join that brotherhood requires a lot of hard work and training. To become a certified lineman, takes about five-and-a-half years.

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