Keeping the lights on
Marc Boulter, Managing Director, Transmission & Distribution
We all see the headlines on the news when electricity supplies have been disrupted by storms and bad weather and the inconvenience that this causes particularly at important times of the year. But do you know what it takes to build and maintain this important infrastructure or about Amec Foster Wheeler’s involvement in the power transmission sector?
Amec Foster Wheeler provides a comprehensive range of power transmission services mainly in the UK and North America. In the UK we employ around 200 linesmen working on lines transmitting electricity around the country at up to 400,000 Volts for companies such as National Grid, UK Power Networks, Western Power Distribution, Scottish Power and Scottish & Southern Energy. Much of the work is adjacent to ‘live’ conditions. Hence, it is extremely important that the linesmen are well trained and work safely as part of efficient teams. In Scotland for example, often work in geographically remote areas and in harsh weather conditions. In such an environment, completing intricate tasks 20m above the ground in heavy personal protective equipment and safety harnesses is not for the faint hearted.
As I mentioned, it is often the storm damage disruptions that get the bad headlines. Over the Easter Holiday, Storm Katie damaged overhead power lines in the East of England. As part of our Alliance with UK Power Networks our linesmen were mobilised to help restore the power to over 123,000 homes. Our prompt response and the hard work and dedication of our linesmen enabled us to repair the damage and restore power to vulnerable customers in these difficult conditions in a timely manner.
In 2013 the US Senate designated 18 April as National Linesman Appreciation Day to “recognise the efforts of linemen in keeping the power on and protecting public safety”. Most of us take our supply of electricity for granted and do not consider the everyday physical demands that are placed on linesmen or their dangerous working environment.
Next time you switch on your TV don’t take for granted the skill and dedication of the linesmen who maintain our electricity infrastructure.
Meet the blogger
Marc Boulter is Managing Director for Transmission & Distribution and co-ordinates the sector for Amec Foster Wheeler globally. Marc joined Amec Foster Wheeler in 2001 and has 29 years international consulting and contracting experience working across Africa, Europe, Far East and the US.