When public power lineworkers in South Carolina found themselves without a way to get formal training, Craig Batchelor’s phone started ringing. “I got a lot of calls that day,” he says.
Craig is the Manager of Safety and Training at ElectriCities. He leads a team of experienced instructors who train lineworkers to work safely and efficiently and advance their careers.
The team stays up to date on OSHA requirements, the National Electrical Safety Code, and the American Public Power Association’s Safety Manual to ensure lineworkers get the best, most valuable information to keep themselves and their coworkers safe.
Hundreds of North Carolina-based public power lineworkers are working their way through ElectriCities’ Lineworker Apprenticeship Program, a four-level program that leads to journey lineworker status, approved by the U.S. Department of Labor. They attend classes at ElectriCities’ training facilities in Maiden and Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
When the calls came from South Carolina, Craig and team hit the road to see how they could help.
“Once we heard from roughly 20 utility directors who wanted their teams to participate in our program, we knew we needed a facility there,” he says.
In March 2023, about 16 months after those initial calls, the first Climbing School kicked off in the new lineworker training facility in the public power city of Newberry, South Carolina.
“Newberry Mayor Foster Senn and the City of Newberry’s Utility Director, Tim Baker, have been excellent partners to us throughout the process of establishing this training facility,” Craig says. “Since the very beginning, they’ve been in sync with our priorities and goals.”
At 3.5 acres, the Newberry outdoor training site is ElectriCities’ largest. Classroom training takes place about a mile and a half away in the Newberry Firehouse Conference Center.
Eight of the 17 schools ElectriCities offers are currently available in Newberry. The team may add more in 2024. For now, the focus is on accommodating lineworkers interested in the apprenticeship program.
“We have about 50 South Carolina apprentice lineworkers in the program,” Craig says. “And demand has been so high, we added an extra session of our Climbing School in Newberry to accommodate everyone.”
Students from any ElectriCities member community are welcome to attend classes in any of the ElectriCities training facilities.
“If you’re attempting to register a student for a class and it’s full, don’t hesitate to check another location,” Craig says.
“We’re grateful to everyone involved in establishing this training facility,” Craig says. “The outdoor site wouldn’t have been possible without the help of all the lineworkers from Newberry and other South Carolina municipalities who volunteered their time and resources to help us build it.”
If you have questions or would like more information on ElectriCities training opportunities, contact Susanne Taylor, Learning & Development Specialist at ElectriCities.