Spring has been a busy season for co-op employee training at the AIEC. From lineworkers to board directors, education is key for the professional development and safety in the electric cooperative program.

AIEC Line School


The AIEC’s safety department facilitates the electrical distribution lineworker programs at Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) in Springfield. Through the LLCC program and the Illinois Rural Electric Apprentice Program (IREAP), students and cooperative employees receive a valuable education.

Cooperative and municipal employees attend the IREAP program to obtain the skills necessary to achieve journeyman lineworker status. The LLCC program trains students to become lineworkers, and attendees can obtain an associate degree, if desired.

Spring Line School included a two-week Climbing School starting on March 20 and one-week classes in First-Year Distribution, Second-Year Distribution, Advanced Distribution, Rubber Gloving and Underground Residential Distribution, which concluded the week of May 1.

Line School kicked off with two weeks of Climbing School, which is recommended for first year apprentices. Hands-on training included the proper technique of climbing poles up to 60 feet, proper use and care of fall arrest systems, secondary safety while transitioning on pole, becoming familiar hot line tools, practicing pole top rescue, and basic “on the pole” rigging using knots.

First-Year Distribution School involved hands-on training that demonstrated the installation of line insulators and other connectors, hardware identification and care of tools, changing out insulators and cross arms, using live line tools, and general procedures of job completion to include planning, material selection and tailgate safety discussions.

During Second Year Distribution School, students learned the proper use of personal protective apparel, installation of crossarms, insulators, lightning arrestors and transformers, pole change on various structures, using live line tools, and grounding techniques.

The Advanced Distribution School taught participants how to use a variety of line fasteners and insulating equipment, learn about pole quality and safety considerations while climbing, troubleshoot lightning arrestors, practice 3-phase line pole and crossarm changes.

Rubber Gloving School provided hands-on training for proper techniques for repairing and changing out electrical equipment and lines, grounding and insulating vehicles, operating aerial life devices on utility vehicles, and bucket truck rescue.

During Underground Residential Distribution School, students learned fault-locating techniques for primary and secondary cables, proper splicing of cable, switching procedures used in underground installations, and proper maintenance procedures for use with pad mount transformers.

NRECA SMDP 721: Productive Conflict for Supervisors

On March 23, electric cooperative employees from across the state gathered at the AIEC for the Productive Conflict for Supervisors class. The course, taught by Kara Kelley of the Austin Alliance Group, aimed to establish a collaborative atmosphere conducive to resolving conflicts when they arise, explore different behavioral styles, and understand how to manage one’s personal response to conflict. This course is part of NRECA’s Supervisor and Manager Development Program.

Onsite Observation Training

The Onsite Observation Training, taught by NRECA’s Bud Branham March 28-29, was a detailed review of the Onsite Observation process. The goal of the training is to give co-ops and onsite observation team members a better overall understanding of the safety improvement principles of the program and how to achieve the best level of effectiveness during the onsite observation process.

NRECA SMDP 723: Team Dynamics

Carolyn Becker, of the Austin Alliance Group, traveled to the AIEC to teach co-op employees about team dynamics. The course helped attendees better understand team dynamics and the role every person plays in reaching a team goal. This course is part of NRECA’s Supervisor and Manager Development Program.

Phase 1 Staking School

On April 18-21, Hi-Line Engineering taught Phase 1 Staking School at the AIEC. This course covered the basic methods of line route surveying. The students are learning to make accurate distance measurements, turn and bisect line angles, and measure changes in elevation using basic surveying instruments.

Transformer School

Held May 9-11 at the AIEC, the Transformer School workshop was a combination of classroom and hands-on learning, where participants were exposed to situations as “real-world” as possible, without the risks or danger. The workshop covered the topics of single-phase and three-phase transformer connections and theory including turns ratios, polarities, safe work practices, basic calculations, connections, sizing and troubleshooting. The course was taught by Scott Meinecke, the Director of Safety and Loss Control for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives. He has taught this workshop for more than 25 years.

Utility Line Clearance School

Southern Illinois Artisans Building in Wittington hosted this year’s Utility Line Clearance School May 15-19. This school was designed to accommodate both experienced and inexperienced employees who wish to become more proficient in the field of Line Clearance and Right of Way Management. The hands-on approach allowed students to learn new skills and apply them to work scenarios in the field while supervised and coached by an instructor. Participants were expected to demonstrate procedures set forth in OSHA regulations and ANSI guidelines, as well as be competent in their application and overall safety, upon completion of the school.

Cybersecurity: The Board’s Oversight Role

Held May 24 at the AIEC and online, co-op directors who attended the NRECA BLC 927 course taught by Scott Luecal, learned about their role with cybersecurity. As a result of a rapidly changing cyber-threat landscape and the growth of digitization, electric cooperatives recognize the need to effectively manage cyber risks. Boards face a balancing act with cybersecurity and continued pursuit of digital innovation and meeting consumer-member needs. This course was designed to help distribution co-op directors find that balance and fulfill their cybersecurity oversight responsibilities. Those who attended received credit toward their NRECA’s Board Leadership Certificate.