A group of about 20 aspiring utility workers participated in one of the most important requirements of any electric line worker—climbing a wooden utility pole.
Students from Oakland’s Cypress Mandela Training Center and Workforce Institute, a division of San Jose/Evergreen Community College District, are the first to participate in this three-week pole climbing course.
A new pole climbing training facility was recently built at PG&E’s Oakport Service Center in Oakland to provide a training location for students participating in the free program.
“The point of this program is to get these folks in a better position to get hired with PG&E,” Jeff Wilding, director of electric operations training for PG&E, told the Contra Costa Times. “It significantly increases their odds.”
KTVU-TV referred to the exercise as a “high voltage Cirque du Soleil.” The students, harnessed to the 40-foot poles, wore heavy work clothes and spiked boots. Climbing a power pole is necessary to repair electrical wires.
“It’s harder than it looks at first,” Olatungi Lawrence said. “After you get your rhythm, after you get the techniques that the instructors tell you, it gets a little easier.”