Just like that lone power line structure still standing following the ice storm during the winter of 2006-2007, NPPD’s surveyors are always there when you need us as well. Most of the time we might go unnoticed, though, because we often do our jobs before the action starts, or we are working in the background. But I can promise you that when surveyors are needed, we will be right there beside line technicians and construction crews getting the job done as well.
The ice storm mentioned above hit a large part of Nebraska shortly after I started work at NPPD in August of 2006. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t ready for the challenge. I soon learned it’s times like those when we at NPPD – or any one of the public power districts across the state – seem to do our best work. I’ve never been much of an office type, and it makes me feel good to do things for others. What better opportunity than a storm job when the whole state of Nebraska is expecting you to do your best and to get their power restored as quickly and safely as possible?
While a surveyor’s job isn’t usually as dangerous as a lineman’s, power company surveyors still have to be very careful – whether it be working around downed power lines or working in high voltage electrical substations, among other places. At NPPD, we even have days where we work along our water system canals or 3,500 feet down the inside of a siphon. Now that was a project the average person doesn’t experience every day! Nothing like having to wear a Tyvek suit, respirator and other personal protection equipment to perform a survey, and if you don’t like confined spaces then that wouldn’t be a place for you!
One of the best parts of working at NPPD is the variety of work that we do. The District’s three field surveyors cover surveying needs across the whole state, so one (or more) of us is always traveling to different areas to work on all kinds of projects. We survey anything from power lines to substations, hydro facilities to any of our fossil-fueled power plants. We even survey canal systems, dams and any other facilities that NPPD owns and operates. We also do easements for power lines and other land-related documents in our department.
If there is a new project being planned such as a substation, you can about bet that we’ll be involved in one way or another to get that project going and to make sure NPPD’s engineers have all the data they need to be able to do their designs. We also get involved once the engineers get their projects designed and need us to go back out and stake a project for construction. We stake anything, from power line structures and anchor locations to where new concrete footings go in a substation, or even the new chain link fence around the outside of the substation.
Another important part of our jobs is the monitoring surveys we do across the state. We monitor several dam structures along with hydro facilities to make sure safety of the public is protected. We monitor several hydro facilities, including Spencer Hydro, North Platte Hydro, Gothenburg Headgates and the Sutherland Reservoir. We even monitor Loup Power District’s Monroe and Columbus Hydro power plants. It’s all about teamwork and working together to make public power work!
Over the past eight-and-a-half years, I’ve seen a lot of territory and met many great people across the state of Nebraska – whether it be the people we serve or those I work with. I hope everyone out there enjoys meeting that orange bumper on the highway as much as I do. I take pride in a job well done and won’t settle for anything less, and I know my colleagues won’t either.
We might be “just” surveyors, but we will always be there when you need us; no matter what. During our daily travels, we never know what we might come across. Most of us field guys have a variety of equipment in our trucks enabling us to respond to a wide range of situations. Our three surveyors even have a defibrillator in each of our survey trucks in case someone would have an issue, and we can’t get medical help in time.
Shortly after I had started at NPPD, I was south of York on U.S. Highway 81 headed back home, and I noticed a parked car on the opposite side of the highway. As I got closer I saw the hood was up, and flames were coming out of the car’s engine compartment. The driver was standing there watching it burn. I turned around and was able to get back to him and put the fire out with my extinguisher before it got out of hand.
About a month ago, two of us were surveying at Gerald Gentleman Station. On the way in for the night, we were driving around Sutherland Reservoir and a gentleman in front of us hit a deer with a minivan. We both stopped to see if we could help. My coworker, being a fireman and emergency medical technician (EMT), checked out the gentleman and his vehicle, while I positioned my work truck behind the gentleman’s van and flipped on my flashers and strobes to warn motorists of the trouble ahead. My coworker and I waited until the Sheriff arrived to help the man, and then we headed on our way again.
Public power is far more than just supplying the state with electricity. It’s about us who work for power companies serving our fellow Nebraskans. We make sure they have the power they need to go about their everyday way of life, and we also do our part to help them out in many other ways when they need our assistance. It’s not always just about surveying or being a lineman.
So until we are needed by NPPD’s engineering department for that next project – or even until we are needed for assistance by a member of the public along some highway or country road – you can bet that we surveyors will waiting. We’ll be there when you need us, always!