Relaying 50 Years of Experience

February 23, 2018

On Mar. 28, 1979, Three Mile Island (TMI) Nuclear Generating Station was the site of a nuclear reactor accident that grabbed the attention of people across the globe. At the time, the facility was operated by Met-Ed, which was part of GPU*. Relay Technician Bill Kline is very familiar with the event – he was there.

“I was one of several relay technicians positioned at a substation located just outside of TMI,” recalls Bill. “We monitored the substation around the clock to make sure it remained energized while the incident was being investigated.”

Bill has experienced many other noteworthy events during his 50 years with the company. He started with Met-Ed in 1967 in Building Services, transferred to Mapping in 1968, and then to Layout in the Engineering Department later that year. By 1974, Bill was working in the Relay Department at Lebanon Service Center, and he has been there ever since.

“I really enjoy relay work, it’s very challenging,” says Bill. “When I first started in the department, the test equipment was a lot different compared to what we use today. Most of the relays were electromechanical, so we spent a good portion of our time repairing damaged devices. Now, with microprocessors and other technological advancements, we mostly just remove failed pieces of equipment and replace them with new units.”

Although he’s had some interesting experiences, what Bill remembers most about his career are the employees he’s met along the way. “We’ve always had a small department, and I’m fortunate to have worked with a lot of good people through the years. Believe it or not, I was once the young guy in the group,” he says with a laugh.

Bill is thankful that the company’s younger relay technicians are more computer savvy. “We used to spend hours testing damaged pieces of equipment with various types of meters to try to identify problems. Now, we just plug in a Toughbook and the computer identifies the issue in a couple of minutes.”

According to Arthur Stewart, supervisor, Regional Operations, you don’t work for a company for 50 years without being good at your job and focused on safety. “Whatever the situation, I know I can count on Bill to get the work done right,” says Arthur. “He always has been dedicated to safety, and he is a great mentor for our newer employees.”

* FirstEnergy purchased GPU in 2001. GPU was a utility holding company for Penelec, Met-Ed and JCP&L