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News & Press: Member Co-op News

207 co-op lineworkers gather for training in January

Tuesday, January 30, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Shari Wormwood
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The Minnesota Lineworker Conference, held on January 17-19 saw 207 attendees who received a myriad of training packed into three days.

Brian Erga, President of ESCI (Electrical Safety Consultants), Inc. kicked off the event with a 4-hour training session on Understanding Personal Protective Grounding. Brian did an excellent job and we made sure the group was perked up with a couple of afternoon breaks sponsored by Altec, Inc.

 Brian Erga, ESCI chats with attendee

Breakout sessions on day two featured Saving and Investing, Capacitor Banks, Personal Safety in the Field and Working with Law Enforcement, Protection Sectionalizing, URD Fault Locating, Drug and Alcohol Testing, Lifting/pulling devices, PCB and Oil Spills, Underground Splicing, Product Evolution, Cable Prep & Failure Analysis, Recognition in Storms and Protection Sectionalizing with a trailer.

 NRECA’s Bud Branham

Following the luncheon on Thursday, which was sponsored by FS3, they heard from NRECA’s Bud Branham, Safety Programs Director with NRECA. He shared on a joint study done with Federated Rural Electric Insurance on Accident trends. After Bud’s presentation, Connexus Energy shared their story with a video about their June 2017 accident. The video was very impactful for the whole audience. The injured lineworker Matt Stachowski—who is already back to work and his partner, Ron Borell, were present to answer questions after the presentation.


Matt Stachowski and Ron Borell of Connexus visit with Clear Lake first responder.


MREA is appreciative for the cooperatives who shared their experienced trainers:

  • Jeanne Avendt, Applications Engineer, Connexus Energy
  • Nick Koslowski, Substation Maintenance Supervisor, East Central Energy
  • Felix Rosales and Scott Johnson, Lineworkers, Connexus Energy

Lineworkers not only learn new skills at this annual conference, they also appreciate the opportunity to reconnect with friends from line school and colleagues from across the state. Lineworker Jerry Pula of North Itasca Electric Cooperative was probably the most appreciative of the bunch at the end of the conference when his name was drawn as the winner of the Stihl Chain Saw and chain saw chaps.

 Curt Freudenberg, MREA and Jerry Pula, North Itasca Electric Co-op


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