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MidAmerican Energy News

MidAmerican Energy Unveils State-of-the-Art Line Mechanic Training Facility

DES MOINES, Iowa – (Sept. 13, 2016) – MidAmerican Energy Company hosted an open house today to celebrate its recently completed 28,000-square-foot line mechanic training facility in Des Moines. Coined the Center for Excellence, the state-of-the-art facility is designed to train future line mechanics to better service our customers.

The building features classroom settings and replicates MidAmerican Energy’s electric infrastructure with indoor and outdoor pole yards with over 100 power poles, a model neighborhood with aboveground and underground equipment, transformers and a manhole training area.

“We’re working closely with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 109 and 499 and area community colleges to provide a safe and realistic way for apprentice line mechanics to acquire the skills they need to manage today’s energy grid,” said Bill Fehrman, president and CEO, MidAmerican Energy. “Line mechanics are our first responders. They perform challenging and potentially dangerous work at the worst time and in the worst weather. High-quality training is incredibly important to keep our line mechanics safe on the job and maintain a high level of reliability for our customers.”

The apprenticeship program lasts two years and includes a mix of classroom instruction, lab work and field experience. Students must complete one year of a pre-apprentice program or line school before entering the program. As part of the program, the apprentices are helping build the indoor and outdoor pole yards. They install the poles, learn how to climb them and work with live lines.

MidAmerican Energy expects two classes of apprentices to begin the program this year. Each class will hold between 6 to 12 students. The company hopes to enroll three classes annually. The Center for Excellence will play an important role in helping to train the next generation of line mechanics as veteran workers retire. Nationally, the utility industry will turn over more than 50 percent of its workers in the next 5 to 10 years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and MidAmerican Energy is no different.

Trainers are helping employees learn and master the skills they need to manage today’s energy delivery system.

“This state-of-the-art facility demonstrates our commitment to investing in our people,” said Jim Dougherty, vice president, electric delivery for MidAmerican Energy. “Helping our employees become knowledgeable, engaged and empowered helps us to fulfill our vision of being the best energy provider in serving our customers.”

During the open house, guests were given a tour of the facility and invited to participate in a “rubber gloving” activity, in which they got to try on rubber gloves and equipment that line mechanics use to work on energized power lines. While the lines weren’t live, the guests got a glimpse into the challenging and precise work of a line mechanic.

Jerry Peek, director, environmental health, safety and training for MidAmerican Energy, said the training helps the apprentices quickly engage because they’re doing work that resembles the day-to-day job of a line mechanic, including using the same tools and equipment.

“Everyone can train safely,” he said. “The Center for Excellence is the link that allows training to be more realistic for line mechanics. They can sharpen their skills, test their knowledge and improve their safety skills so they’re ready to be in the field.”

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About MidAmerican Energy Company
MidAmerican Energy Company is an energy provider serving 752,000 electric customers and 733,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. It is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. Information about MidAmerican Energy is available on the company’s website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages, which can be accessed via MidAmerican Energy Company's website.