South Carolina native Steve Stephens has worked for Energy Erectors since May 1991. He’s currently a supervisor for the company working out of Energy Erectors’ North Las Vegas, Nev., office.
What are some interesting projects you’ve worked on while employed by Energy Erectors?
We had a project in Texas with Chevron and ABB to build a gas insulated substation (GIS), which was totally different from anything I had done before. The cleanliness involved and requirements for tight tolerances really made the job unique compared to an air insulated substation. Instead of an 84-inch phase-to-phase clearance, we had eight inches; we were working with O-rings that had to be kept sterile for a clean fit. We were constructing a 230kV substation on about 25 percent of the footprint for a normal, air insulated substation. Another interesting project Energy Erectors handled was putting ductwork in place for an underground transmission line for NV Energy in Nevada near Interstate 15. I wasn’t on that one personally, but it was interesting because of the bigger conduits and duct systems.
Why have you worked for Energy Erectors all these years?
I’ve never been stuck doing the same thing. There are always different projects and different clients, and I’ve worked in nearly 30 states. I regularly see how other utilities get the job done during different times of the year and varying weather.
What’s your typical day like?
In Vegas, we start close to daylight to beat the heat. Many days begin the day before to make sure we have the materials we’ll need for the next few days. Each morning at or before 5 a.m., we fuel the trucks, load up with ice, water and brief the crews, while reviewing work orders. Our customers are utilities, so work can change midstream. We might expect to be in one location for the day, when we get a message to pick up and work a job somewhere else because it’s a priority for our customer.
I’m one of the guys who does everything; I operate our cranes, terminate wiring – there’s nothing I can’t do physically. But I want guys who come to work for us to know they can do more than ground gridwork; they can do wiring, terminating and switching. The work can be hard, especially in the heat when we’re wearing FR (flame retardant) shirts and pants. You get used to it, and we never press so hard that we don’t take a break. We instill safety and always do everything safely.
In this job, you put steel and equipment up, build something where there was bare ground and know you are part of making that happen.
Have you thought about leaving Energy Erectors for another employer?
No, and that’s because there’s a loyalty factor from both sides here. I’ve always been able to trust them. If Energy Erectors tells me something, they’ve done their very best to stand by that. We butt heads occasionally. But I respect and trust our leadership. Whether its Florida or Las Vegas or some other place, there may be jobs for more dollars. There’s always work somewhere with this company whether in Las Vegas, the Midwest or Florida. I make a nice living here.
If there was only one thing you could tell people considering a career at Energy Erectors, what would you say?
Upward mobility. There are many opportunities here to rapidly improve yourself. If a man or woman, wants to do more than maybe pad welding as a career here, they can. You can move from foreman to supervisor or project manager. Even a laborer here would make more money and have better opportunities than elsewhere. We tell young people, male and female, coming out of school, “If you have any kind of mechanical ability and aptitude and are willing to listen and learn, we can teach you.”