What a day brings to an employee that’s on call

EnergyLines 2020


The Facilities Department at Hoosier Energy is tasked with maintaining more than 70 locations 24/7/365. From maintaining generators to office maintenance, the team of eight keeps the cooperative running smoothly. EnergyLines followed Brad Smith for a day. What took place was average until an emergency call came in.


6:30 a.m. Brad Smith arrives at work. That doesn’t mean the Facilities Mechanical Supervisor arrives at the same location each day. In fact, it rarely means the same place from one day to the next. Today, he is starting his day at Hoosier Energy’s Bloomington headquarters.


Smith is part of the facilities team at Hoosier Energy. The team maintains more than 70 locations under Hoosier Energy’s cooperative umbrella. The facilities team checks on everything from buildings to microwave towers.


Smith and Bart Abel, Facilities Electrical Supervisor, cover the majority of the outlying properties, each playing to their expertise.


At headquarters, Smith begins his monthly backup generator check and load testing. This ensures that the generator will work in case of a loss of power.


7:15 a.m.   Then everything for the day changes when the phone rings. Pike County officials call to say that the access road to the Petersburg, Ind., location, has had a partial road collapse.  


Smith immediately begins making phone calls to the Petersburg facility, Bryan Place, Manager of Facilities, and contractors to start a contingency plan for employees to have access to the location.


8:00 a.m. Smith finishes calls as he finalizes a plan for easement allocations.


So much for a routine day.


“That’s the thing with this job,” says Smith. “You have to be ready for anything, anywhere at any time. We are on call 24/7 because these types of things don’t always happen in an 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. world. They very rarely happen where you are.”


Back at headquarters, the generator has run for 30 minutes and all systems have been checked. He heads out to test the next generator at the Worthington Generating Station.


Smith began working at Hoosier Energy in August 2011 at the Ratts Generating Station and then transitioned to the Facilities Department. He was a maintenance planner for 4.5 years and is now the Facilities Mechanical Supervisor.


9:15 a.m.  Arriving at the Worthington Generating Station, Smith begins checking fuel amounts and battery charge for the two generators on site.


Checking each site is important, but it is especially important at this location. Should something happen to the electric grid, this is the site where Hoosier Energy would begin fixing issues because it is a primary switchyard.


Part of his routine also includes checking to see if there are other concerns that need addressed while he is on site. This request is always welcomed with a smile and a list of actionable items.


10:40 a.m.  After a 20-mile drive, Smith arrives at Power Delivery Owen County for the final generator checks. This location has two generators. The fire pump will also be tested at this location.


The day of travel was extended by the road closure at the Petersburg location. Calls related to this emergency came in all day, with Smith fielding them and determining the next steps to take. It was time for him to make the 75-mile trek down to Petersburg and investigate the damage to the road for himself.


It’s all in a day’s work for a facilities employee.


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