Rain or shine, safety is always at the top of every lineman’s mind.
Meet JD Ovalle, Lubbock Power & Light (LP&L) lineman. He began his journey as a lineman back in 1999 when he came across linemen loading poles, which instantly piqued his curiosity in the trade. After reaching out and learning more about the position at an electrical company in Northwest Texas, Ovalle was instructed to come back once he turned 18. Shortly after his 18th birthday, he began working in the warehouse then gradually grew into his current role as a lineman.
“Whether it is restoring power, performing maintenance on the lines or setting up poles, it is important to wear proper equipment and stay focused to handle each situation as safely as possible,” said Ovalle. “Safety is a top priority for linemen; one small mistake can lead to severe injury.”
Safety comes with the trade and becoming a lineman requires rigorous training, including participating in a 4-year apprenticeship. The apprenticeship includes a mix of on-the-job training and self-learning from educational materials, which covers many technical aspects of the job and safety protocols. After four successful years, apprentices graduate to linemen.
With all the experience necessary to become a lineman, they are well-prepared to handle a variety of electrical requests to help keep the lights on while keeping themselves and pedestrians safe.
“Depending on how tedious the task is, it can take us anywhere from a couple of hours to all day to complete a task,” continued Ovalle. “Traffic and weather conditions also have a huge role in how quickly and carefully we’re able to get things done.”
During inclement weather, the linemen work with the community to share important safety tips to help keep customers safe.
“Downed lines are commonly spotted during or after storms and other severe weather events,” continued Ovalle. “Avoid these lines because they may be energized and any contact with a power line is potentially lethal.”
It’s never too early to start talking about safety. Ovalle, along with some of his fellow linemen participated in various Power to the Pupils Electrolab presentations, a science demo that engages LISD elementary school students and educates them on power and electricity.
“We really capture the attention of the students during our demos when we light rope and buns on fire,” said Ovalle. “Each item demonstrates what would happen if something came across a power line, like a hand or kite. The goal is to warn these students of the dangers of touching a power line and how to report it to an adult.”
No matter the task, linemen are there to support their customers. Ovalle and many others find it fulfilling when they efficiently complete a difficult job.
“When you are in the middle of a storm and it is pitch black, it’s rewarding to see the lights come back on and know you provided comfort during a daunting time,” said Ovalle.
After a day of providing power to Lubbock residents and spreading safety throughout the community, Ovalle enjoys spending quality time with his family. This includes playing sports with his six kids at home and teaching them how to stay safe and be aware of their surroundings.
If you come across a downed line or any other serious electrical issues, report the problem to LP&L at 806-775-2509 or call 911.