Peering down from 90-feet up on a steel tower can be dizzying enough for most people. But staring down that tower and then into another 1,200-foot drop into a canyon excavated for a new hydroelectric dam can be memorable, if not downright scary.
That’s how our Senior Electric Meter Technician Phil Waterhouse described the “height” of a long career in the electric utility industry. At the time, about 30 years ago, he was placing microwave repeaters for the Pathfinder Dam in Wyoming.
“I remember looking around at the horizon, and the dam was the only sign of civilization that I could see,” he said.
Phil enjoyed being away from civilization as a youngster in Indiana, where he grew up next to an open space that was ripe for adventure. When he wasn’t “exploring the wilds of Indiana” as he described it, he tinkered with things, a pastime he still enjoys.
“Some people take apart clocks. I take apart computers and put them back together again. Why buy something fancy when I can cobble something together that does the job?”
As an adult he has extended his hobbies to scuba diving.
“During the 1990s I learned scuba under the YMCA program, earning Basic Diver, Advanced, Night, Cave, Wreck, Ice, Lifesaving and Advanced Lifesaving certificates.”
Fast forward to today, where Phil is marking his 15th year with us. He and his team are currently coordinating the distribution of more than 54,000 advanced meters to our business and residential customers in the City of Santa Clara, where he started as a lineman.
“Eventually we’re going to see some pretty exciting things for our customers with the new technology,” Phil said. “One day, a mobile app will show a customer the increase in their power consumption when they turn on a machine.”
Phil has witnessed the transition of the utility business as an industry professional for four decades.
“I have 41 years as an A-member Journeyman Lineman in the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers),” he said. “I’ve traveled the country and served as foreman on jobs that included most aspects of the electric utility industry, including a couple of general foreman stints on 69-kilovolt (69,000 volts) projects.”
Love of being under water certainly is a contrast to working high in the air over a gaping canyon. In either extreme, it seems Phil has been able to take a deep breath and enjoy his surroundings, wherever he is.