Powering Strong Communities

KUA’s Aaron Haderle Details Benefits of Line Worker Internship Program

In a recent interview with Public Power Current, Aaron Haderle, Manager of Transmission and Distribution Operations at Florida public power utility Kissimmee Utility Authority (KUA), detailed the benefits that have flowed from an intern program for line workers funded through the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments (DEED) program.

The internship is named after Reginald Hardee, former Chairman of the Board at KUA.

The objective of the program is to bring in a graduating high school student who resides within the KUA service territory as an intern within the transmission and distribution operations division and teach the intern the skills necessary to become a lineman.

The program is designed to attract local residents that have standing ties to the community and to prepare them for a future full‐time position within the utility. The aim is to bring them into the organizational structure early and to assist with employee retention.

In the interview, Haderle noted that KUA in the past has faced challenges in being able to hire trained line workers or line workers “coming from other areas.”

In an effort to address this challenge, KUA has focused on the community it serves and to provide employment opportunities, he said.

As an example, Haderle noted that within the Osceola, Fla., school system there is a technical high school that has an electrical program so Haderle reached out to the individual who runs that program as a way in which to spread the word about opportunities at KUA.

The KUA DEED-funded internship program is now on its fifth year, he said, and “out of the four that we had previously, we’ve hired two out of the four.”

“You see them grow,” Haderle said in reference to the interns. “It’s really, really neat.” The intern program has also helped supervisors in KUA’s Transmission and Distribution Operations department grow, he pointed out.

The intern rotates time between KUA crews around once a month through the program. This allows supervisors to work with individuals who don’t have experience, thus making the supervisors “better coaches,” Haderle said. There are “so many extra benefits from this,” he said.

KUA is currently in a cycle to bring on board an intern through the DEED-funded program.

KUA has been awarded a $5,000 DEED Internship for previous cycles.

When asked if he would recommend other public power utilities to pursue a similar intern program, Haderle said, “two hundred percent.”

Reflecting on challenges associated with the intern program, “the hardest part, I would say, is the communication piece” in terms of engaging with the community.

Along with his role at KUA, Haderle has also served as chair of APPA’s Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) Review Panel.

The RP3 designation, which lasts for three years, recognizes public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, workforce development and system improvement.

Criteria include sound business practices and a utility-wide commitment to safe and reliable delivery of electricity.

For additional information about APPA’s DEED program, click here.