For Freddie Yeatts, foreman for our Underground Transmission Division, eighteen years in the field with New River Electrical hasn’t dulled the enjoyment of the work he does every day.
That’s partly because there are always new challenges to consider and projects to accomplish. “The jobs are getting harder and more complex as everything is becoming more compact,” Yeatts says of the tunnels and spaces where he does most of his work. “But I love the challenge of new jobs in all the different locations we work in.”
Working Beneath the Streets
Underground transmission is a unique trade in electrical construction work; whereas many of our workers in our Overhead or Substation Construction divisions have to get comfortable spending their days at soaring heights, our Underground Transmission division spends their time mostly underground.
They work with very limited space, which presents its own unique challenges: “When you’re working in smaller spaces,” says Yeatts, “you have to figure out how to install the underground cable without damaging it.” That’s because the cables we install can be ruined by bending them beyond a certain radius, which means our workers have to think several steps ahead to get the job done efficiently and correctly.
One of Yeatts’ more challenging projects was in Louisiana where Yeatts and his team installed 72 cables in the basement of a gas-insulated substation. “Wrapping our heads around the complexity of this project, getting everything laid out – that’s what I really enjoy. I’m the type of person that likes a challenge and seeing the impact of our work when everything is done.”
Seeing the Sights
Plus, there are some perks to the job that Yeatts has enjoyed. When our workers finish a hard week of work, they get to emerge from their underground work stations and explore the areas surrounding the job site. “I’m getting to see stuff I wouldn’t have been able to see before. Two years ago, we did a job in Las Vegas. If I wasn’t working this job, I wouldn’t have ever seen Las Vegas. I’m just a country boy,” Yeatts laughs. “Traveling is part of the job, but it’s really cool getting to see the Grand Canyon and other sites like that on the weekends when you’re off.”
Country boy or not, Las Vegas’ neon lights need talent like Yeatts who can help rig the complex electrical facilities that bring power to the high-value real estate of the Strip. Around the nation, as cities draw more power, underground transmission is playing an even more critical role in the next generation of urban infrastructure.
With New River Electrical, Yeatts is able to help them, all while keeping his home base near to his hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia. “There’s no place like home,” he says. When he’s not installing the hidden infrastructure that keeps our cities electrified, Yeatts enjoys a good drag race. Although he has to travel for a few months at a time for work, Yeatts has found time to go down to North Carolina where tracks are open for his high-speed hobby.
We’re fortunate to have Freddie Yeatts as a member of our team — and that unlike his favorite pastime, we’re glad he’s not in a hurry to speed off from us anytime soon.