OPALCO’s line crew is one of the best-trained in the region. In addition to the statewide three-year apprentice program requirements, OPALCO apprentices are required to spend their first year as a groundman, before beginning formal training, and all OPALCO operations staff attend monthly safety meetings and training sessions. Last month, May 2009, the OPALCO line crew trained in pole-top rescue, practicing a hurt man lower. “We run through this training every year,” said General Foreman Steve Eyler, “so they’re prepared – just in case someone has a medical emergency while working on the poles.” OPALCO contracts with Electrical Safety Consultants International (ESCI) to administer its safety program, which also includes topics such as First Aid/CPR, Personal Protection Equipment, Fall Protection, Stress Management, Confined Space/Vault Rescue and Winter Driving.
OPALCO is a member-owned cooperative electrical utility serving more than 11,000 members on 20 islands in San Juan County. OPALCO provides electricity that is 97% greenhouse-gas free and is predominately generated by hydroelectric plants. OPALCO was founded in 1937 to bring electricity to rural islanders.