AEP Ohio’s Underground Network team includes roughly 60 lineworkers: 40 in Columbus, 10 in Canton and a handful of supervisors. They typically perform their daily work, well, underground. Not so the weekend of April 10, when AEP Ohio underground network lineworkers were among a 20-man crew swapping transformers out of a downtown Columbus building nearly 350 feet in the air.
The 26-story tower built in 1973 is powered by eight transformers – four inside the building and four more on the top – that haven’t been replaced in almost 50 years. Age determined that two of the units needed replaced, a job that required a 350-foot crane, city permits, road closures and more than a year of planning.
Swapping out the transformers – i.e., “picking” as it’s called by the riggers and crane operators – was essentially a three-day job. On Friday the crane was assembled; Saturday the 15,000-pound devices were removed and the new transformers were hoisted into place and powered on; and Sunday the crane was disassembled.
Curious onlookers were probably unaware of AEP Ohio’s involvement and the complexity of the job. According to Jeff Hicks, who oversees AEP Ohio’s underground network team, each job is a little different but all present unique challenges.
“We do these jobs pretty routinely, but maybe once a year we do something this big,” said Hicks. “The amount of planning that goes in to something like this is incredible. We have many meetings with all involved parties … there are many factors to consider before the actual ‘pick.’”
As we celebrate National Lineworker Appreciation Day on Sunday, April 18, remember that the men and women climbing poles or in the bucket aren’t the only ones keeping the power on. Our hard-working employees can be found in underground vaults and atop high-rises, too.