Powering Strong Communities

Electric Director for Harrisonville, Missouri, Details Reliability Efforts, Key Role of Lineworkers

In a recent Q&A with Public Power Current, Andy Pollard, Electric Director for the public power community of Harrisonville, Missouri, detailed how the city’s utility has maintained high levels of reliability and the key role that the Electric Department’s lineworker crew plays in ensuring reliability.

The City of Harrisonville Electric Department was previously recognized by the American Public Power Association (APPA) for reliable electric operations.

Pollard noted that when he started his position in July 2020, he was tasked with reducing outages throughout the community.

“After examining the system and determining that the overgrown vegetation was a large piece of the problem, we made drastic changes to how the department addresses rights-of-way,” he said.

“We also partnered with our Board of Aldermen and Mayor to pass significant ordinances addressing the vegetation along those rights-of-way. We have made significant progress in removing several trees during the past two years,” he noted.

“We hired a different tree contractor and made tree trimming the single largest item within our budget.  This new approach has allowed us to vastly reduce our number of outages; and nearly all outages that do happen are corrected within an hour. We also benefit from the Missouri Public Utility Alliance supplying our power over EVERGY transmission lines, with very few interruptions.”

Pollard said that safety and reliability are items that the entire city strives to maintain “and the same is true for our department. Our lineworkers play a vital role in maintaining our reliability by changing out poles, upgrading lines, providing customer service, maintaining vehicles and equipment, trimming trees, and responding to customer complaints. The lineworker for a municipality is a unique individual that may wear multiple hats throughout the day. They are our backbone for sure!”

He said that all of his department’s lineworkers regularly attend MPUA training and the Electric Department adheres to all APPA Safety Manual rules as closely as possible.

“Similar to other departments throughout the country, we strive to eliminate any possibility of an accident,” he said,

APPA “has done a great job of mirroring the OSHA and NESC safety requirements in their safety manual. Our department conducts monthly safety meetings, covering a wide variety of safety topics.  Each meeting is ended by highlighting one of the sections of the APPA safety manual.  We hold job briefings at all job sites and share any near misses, so they do not happen again.”

When asked to describe his role, Pollard noted that an Electric Director wears many hats. “I am tasked with overseeing day-to-day operations, budget management, responding to individual citizen’s needs, managing contractors and contracts with outside entities doing work within our grid, ordering supplies and vehicles and planning long-term, grid-improvement projects.”

He also currently serves as the Missouri Public Utility Alliance Mutual Aid Chairman and the APPA Customer Connections Key Accounts Vice Chairman.

Pollard was also asked to discuss projects underway or planned by the Harrisonville electric department.

As the city looks to take an innovative approach to the continued growth of the Harrisonville community, “we have begun an overhead to underground project with engineering beginning in 2023.  We are in the process of getting our system mapped by MPower Innovations and are having a load study conducted by PUNGO Engineering.”

The community is currently seeing several housing developments “get going and we are excited about how these new lines will serve those neighborhoods and limit potential future outages. Our city is seeing above average commercial and residential growth. We will also launch an AMI project in 2024.”