Public Power is a Family Calling for Recipient of APPA Scholarship

For Joshua Nunn, who received a scholarship from the American Public Power Association’s Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments program and started work this month at the public power utility in Rocky Mount, N.C., public power is a family calling.

In a Q&A with Public Power Current, Nunn noted that he first became interested in public power when his stepfather Bobby told Nunn about his experience working for another public power community, the Town of Wake Forest, N.C.

“I like helping people,” Nunn noted in talking about why public power interested him as a career choice. The DEED scholarship helped Nunn pay for his participation in a lineman program. “I can truly say that I am blessed with everything that has happened in my life,” he said.

Nunn started work at the City of Rocky Mount on Jan. 23 as an apprentice lineman.

As part of the DEED scholarship process, Nunn was sponsored by ElectriCities of North Carolina, whose members include Rocky Mount and Wake Forest.

Kenny Roberts, Supervisor of Safety Training and Mutual Aid Coordinator at ElectriCities, noted that Nunn had “a passion about wanting to be a lineman and this scholarship gave him the opportunity to attend” a community college “and get through that program, which resulted in him getting hired in one of our public power communities.”

Along with his role at ElectriCities, Roberts is Board Chair for the DEED program.

Roberts said that Nunn’s experience is a “give back kind of story,” with the DEED scholarship resulting in a direct “return to a public power community being able to recruit a new employee.”

He pointed out that recruiting and hiring of lineworkers these days is a major challenge. “Qualified people are very hard to find, and this program and this scholarship is a good example of value that this program and these scholarships bring to our public power communities.”

The scholarships provide a “tool that utilities can use to bring these new people into our industry and give them good exposure,” Roberts said.

Roberts noted that Nunn’s stepfather approached Roberts when Nunn was a senior in high school and said that Nunn wanted to get into line work and asked about possible scholarships.

Roberts told Nunn’s stepfather that ElectriCities offers a lineworker scholarship that is granted annually, as well as provided details about the DEED program “and he was very interested in” the DEED program.

“I met with him and Joshua and we kind of walked through the process” and went to Nash Community College in North Carolina “and met with their staff about the lineworker program. They have processed multiple scholarships through the DEED program, so they were very familiar with it.”

Darryl Strother, Electric Operations Manager at Rocky Mount Public Utilities, serves on the DEED program’s Board of Directors.

Meanwhile, Roberts detailed the overall benefits of public power utilities participating in the DEED program.

“Being a part of the DEED program and being on that board has been one of the highlights of my career,” he said. Roberts has worked in public power for more than 30 years.

“This program was put together by the membership to provide research and development and assistance” to public power utilities and “It’s been very valuable to those DEED members as far as a resource goes, for networking and finding out successful methods and new ways” to meet challenges that crop up for the power sector, Roberts said.

“Every year in the cycle, we get such good applications from small utilities, large utilities, associations that all have the same interests, and this program allows us to be able to provide financial support and the networking for these utilities to work together to better prepare to serve their communities in the future,” he said.

“The DEED scholarship removes the financial obstacle that could prevent someone from pursuing higher education. By removing this burden, the individual is free to pursue an education that could lead to a career in public power,” said Strother.

He said the DEED program “has given us the opportunity to hire various interns over the years to work on special projects. We simply did not have the staff available to work on these projects, even though they were meaningful to our utility. The interns have been a tremendous value to us in this area. The real power of DEED, though, is being able to access funds to finance research projects that are a benefit to all public power utilities.”

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