Despite manpower shortage , Power Department services haven’t lagged
By Rhett Wilkinson
MT. PLEASANT—The Mt. Pleasant Power Department, which ordinarily has a staff of five, has been down to one or two people on duty at times during the past month, with COVID-19 being one of the factors.
Yet installation of a new transformer at the Main Street substation and other services have not been cut back, said power superintendent Shane Ward.
During the two weeks from Nov. 16-28, both Ward and another employee were quarantined because of COVID. A third employee was out on long-term disability.
That left two employees, but because of the way shifts fall, sometimes only one was on duty. With some “prioritizing” and “intermixing” of staff with other departments, the power staff is now back up to 4.5 employees.
How has the department been managing?
Ward and team members Tyler Beesley, Kyle Sorensen and Cameron Parry went through the list of jobs in the department and thought about what could wait until spring when they have a full crew.
“We’re going through our strategic planning process right now with our goals and our priorities,” he added. “So come January, we can have our act more together.”
Regarding intermixing departments, the department designated one day each week for tree trimming. Spring City lineman Kent Kummer will help with that. The department also borrows two public works employees as needed. In return for Kummer’s help, Mt. Pleasant helps one day per week in Spring City.
Further, the department has brought on Weston Monk, who was working part-time in public works. He will continue with public works part-time but will also work part-time for the Power Department.
“We’ll keep track of his time and we’ll pay part of his wage … as long as he is able to come help us,” Ward said. “That’s a big thing that’s really helped us out … even though he’s not trained, he can still run a chipper truck and be a grounds man.”
A chipper truck is a type of dump truck used to transport wood chips. A grounds man helps with the maintenance and construction of power lines.
Ward expressed appreciation to Colter Allen, the Mt. Pleasant public works superintendent, for helping bolster the Power Department staff.
Another helpful factor is that Mt. Pleasant has mutual aid agreements with neighboring utilities and in an emergency, Ward can call power workers from Manti or Ephraim.
Ward says he and his team tell customers to be “patient” and most customers have been understanding.