How and why do Basin Electric linemen barehand 345,000-volt power lines?

Basin Electric journeyman lineman Tim Craven is able to touch a 345,000-volt power line thanks to a special suit and proper grounding practices.

Linemen are superheroes in the electric industry. Whether they are the ones going out and restoring power after a tornado in the heat of the summer or after an ice storm or blizzard in the bitter cold, they regularly put their lives on the line to ensure the lights (and heat) stay on.

Twice each year, Basin Electric’s Transmission System Maintenance crews from across its service area are required to participate in live line training, a week-long, hands-on training where lineworkers learn and refine the techniques necessary to safely perform hot stick (insulated fiberglass tools) and bare-hand work on energized power lines.

And one might ask, “why would they want to work on power lines that have up to 345,000 volts of electricity running through them?” The answer is that they do it for the members at the end of the line – so they can go about their daily lives – charging their phones and watching their shows without having to give a second thought to where their electricity is coming from.

The main focus of live line training is safety. “Everything we do out here is for safety,” says Vince Smith, Basin Electric transmission line superintendent. “Getting familiar with the techniques and proper tooling, training new linemen, and refining skills for those who are more seasoned. We strive to do everything we can when power lines are energized because that means reliability for our members.”   

Watch the video to learn about the suit that makes a lineworker like a “bird on the wire,” and why the camaraderie of live line training is so important.

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