Editor’s note: As Veterans Day approaches on Friday (Nov. 11), we’re sharing stories of some of the many employees at PG&E who got their start serving our country.
By Tony Khing
SANTA CLARA — More than a year ago, former U.S. Marine Farron Drylie graduated from PG&E’s PowerPathway program. The staff sergeant was the first active military member to take the training. Drylie spent two months in the Entry to Gas Operations program.
Drylie was hired by PG&E full-time last October, two months after he ended his 10-year stay with the Marines. Since then, he’s been working as a gas compliance representative. Drylie’s responsibility is marking the ground to let contractors know there’s an active gas line.
“I was the first line of defense for America,” Drylie said. “Now I’m the first line of defense for the cities I work in.”
In the Marines, Drylie was responsible for protecting and serving others. He’s got the same responsibility at PG&E. In the 12 months Drylie’s been with PG&E, he has learned the importance of calling 811 before digging.
“If somebody’s been living on a property for 30 years and they have a steel line, it could be two inches from the surface,” he said. “If they want to rototill their front yard, they could hit it and bad things could happen. So it’s better to get it located.”
Drylie is a graduate of a program started in 2008 in response to California’s growing energy workforce needs. PG&E partners with community college, community organization, workforce investment board, university and educational partners to train individuals in electric and gas operations. Since PowerPathway’s inception, nearly 800 have graduated with more than 80 percent having been hired by PG&E or others in the utility industry.
Veterans have been a major factor in PowerPathway’s success. Drylie is one of the 255 veterans who’ve graduated from PowerPathway over the last three years. In that same period, 190 of those veterans (75 percent) have been hired within the utility industry and more than half have found employment at PG&E.
Earlier this year, PowerPathway held its first cohort on an active military base in Washington state. Last year in Fresno, PG&E held a PowerPathway cohort for veterans who became customer service representatives. PowerPathway has also been praised by Vice President Joe Biden, who visited a class of military veterans learning gas pipeline safety last year.
PowerPathway has also played a big role in PG&E’s plan to place veterans in careers with the company. The “1,000 Careers Project,” which started last year, has hired nearly 350 veterans in slightly more than a year. The goal is to hire 1,000 over an eight-year period. At the current pace, PG&E will achieve the 1,000 careers goal in five years.
Veterans bring the right skill set to PG&E and the energy industry. They’re disciplined, dedicated to serve, can work well as a team and are focused on doing the job right.
“He’s (Drylie) always asking me if there’s anything he can do better,” said Frank Narte, supervisor of gas transmission and distribution and a former Army sergeant. “He’s always trying to better himself. I always try to give him guidance on what I know. He’s always looking to make his career even better.”
Drylie’s positive attitude helped him succeed in PowerPathway, in starting his PG&E career and in serving the customers.
“He’s so committed to PG&E. It’s like he bleeds blue,” said Alexandria Baker, PowerPathway program manager. “He’s so happy to be part of the PG&E family. He brings that same commitment to the job.”
And Drylie’s passion for his work is clear.
“I get to protect people,” he said. “It’s just my nature and how I was made. I get a thrill from it.”
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.