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Equipping Line Technicians

Equipping Line Technicians

for the Lone Star State's Future Power Grid

Serving more than 100,000 students annually, Tarrant County College leadership implemented the Career Pathways model to help even more students achieve their academic dreams. Currently, TCC offers more than 70 technical programs through its five physical campuses, and yet there are more in the pipeline.

A new partnership between TCC and Oncor Electric, a regulated electric transmission and distribution service provider that serves 10 million customers across Texas, will provide a new generation of workers for the energy giant. The company operates the largest distribution and transmission system in Texas, consisting of approximately 121,000 miles of lines and more than 3.3 million meters across the state. Energy is delivered through electrical lines, solar and wind turbines reaching even the rural areas of Texas.

Oncor Electric is in the process of installing new electrical lines and repairing current infrastructure to meet the growing need for reliable electricity sparked by the region’s population boom. Overall, industry experts predict that it would cost billions to replace the current power grid, which includes power plants, transformers, power lines and poles. In order to modernize the grid and improve power delivery, Oncor is banking on TCC to create a skilled, highly trained workforce to maintain the electrical transmission lines in its service area.

“For more than 50 years, Tarrant County College has been deeply connected to the economic and social well-being of Texas,” said TCC Chancellor Eugene Giovannini.

This partnership confirms that TCC is a major regional economic generator, creating sustainable and measurable economic vitality for alumni and taxpayers.

Eugene Giovannini

Beginning this fall, students can earn an Electrical Line Technician certificate through Community & Industry Education Services (CIES) at TCC South. Workers currently in the field can upgrade skills to enhance opportunities for promotion, while new entrants can learn industry basics that will prepare them for the associate degree program.

The Electrical Line Technician AAS degree is expected to be available in fall 2018, pending accreditation approval. Graduates will complete the program with a unique combination of applied and technical skills, as well as the ability to enter the workforce as competent skilled professionals. Each fall semester will begin with a cohort of 15 students.

Electrical line technicians are viewed as the backbone of the energy industry. TCC’s new program will prepare individuals to apply technical knowledge and skills to install, operate, maintain and repair local, long-distance and rural electric power cables and communication lines; erect and construct pole and tower lines; and, install underground lines and cables. Graduates will have the opportunity to impact Oncor’s mission of providing affordable and efficient power delivery to its growing customer base.

Oncor Electric will interview eligible students after program completion. Employment of line installers and repairers is projected to grow six percent from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those looking to become electric power-line installers and repairers should have the best job prospects. Employment in this sector is projected to increase 11 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual salary for electrical power-line installers and repairers was $68,010
in May 2016.

Given the growth that is taking place in Tarrant County and all of North Texas, the demand for energy will continue to increase. The population in the Dallas-Fort Worth area grew by 144,704—second only to Houston, according to the U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2015-2016. The study shows that Tarrant County gained some 35,462 residents, bringing its population to 2,106,871 in July 2016. Things aren’t slowing down either, with more than 200 people moving to the Metroplex each day.

Both TCC and Oncor Electric expect the partnership to benefit Tarrant County in a number of ways: the knowledge to save energy, reduce the amount of energy in residential homes and improve cost savings to the residents of Tarrant County and across Texas.

According to a 2013 Department of Energy report, power grid outages have risen nearly 300 percent since records on blackouts began. Here in North Texas, extreme weather events have caused multiple blackouts, a problem electrical line technicians are responsible for troubleshooting and fixing.

Besides working in a range of weather conditions, electrical line technicians have a physically demanding job that requires lifting, climbing poles, trending the installation of underground cable, or working in overhead in overhead buckets up to 200 feet off the ground, so it’s ideal for both men and women.