Unsung Heroes

In response to COVID-19, Distribution Technician Todd Nehlen is relying more heavily on technology to perform his job, using conference calls to hold meetings and working from home.

June 11, 2020

FirstEnergy’s distribution technicians play a key role in providing safe and reliable electric service. They work closely with engineers and line supervisors to plan, design and execute new electric service – and enhance existing service – for customers across our service territory.

“We work behind the scenes to plan and design the projects that our line workers perform in the field each day,” said Todd Nehlen, distribution technician, Penn Power. “Every work order takes hours of planning to ensure each job is performed safely and cost effectively.”

Before any new work begins, distribution technicians conduct field investigations to assess the terrain, clearances and potential obstacles our line crews could face on a job site. They use that information to determine the personnel, materials and permits that will be needed to construct the overhead (or underground) lines and equipment.

Todd has been with the company for 25 years – his previous roles include serving as a line supervisor and distribution engineer. During storm events, his years of experience allow him to quickly assess damage and create work orders to help speed restoration activities in the field.

Todd enjoys interacting with customers, property owners, architects and engineers while performing his job duties. However, in response to COVID-19, distribution technicians are relying more heavily on technology to perform their jobs virtually. When they are not conducting property assessments in the field – while following social distancing guidelines – they are holding conference calls and working from home.

“It definitely takes an organized, disciplined and flexible person to perform this kind of work because the there are many factors that can change daily operations, like responding to damage caused by severe weather,” said Jeff Doran, manager, Operations Services, Penn Power. “It’s a great job for people who enjoy the planning and design components of the operations side of the business.”