A problem-solver with a “can do” attitude

As the sole communications engineer on his team in the Marines, Steven learned about Steve Arterburn standing in front of a rack of servers, plugging wires in.the importance of self-sufficiency, discipline and teamwork early on in his career. “I had to know how everything worked – the whole process from start to finish and every detail in between. The buck stopped with me since I was the only one with that knowledge and expertise.” Steven was used to working collaboratively and delivering results.

When he joined our team at Silicon Valley Power, Steven already had the solution-oriented mindset that would propel him to become the go-to problem solver he is today. Whether troubleshooting user issues or developing new technologies that support our growing utility infrastructure, we can depend on Steven to help out and get things done.

Steven has managed many high priority projects in his 5 years with us. Yet he remains most proud of energizing the Parker Substation, the first project for which he designed, built, configured, installed, tested and verified every aspect of substation communications in a record two years’ time. “It was a great feeling to see everything up and running, working properly,” says Steven.

When he’s not identifying and mitigating threat impacts to the utility network or conducting audits on regulatory requirements, Steven enjoys spending time in nature with his wife and four children. There are few places he’d rather be than a meadow in the woods with a gentle breeze, surrounded by the sounds of the forest. Steven dreams of hiking with his family up Machu Picchu.

Steven’s favorite part of his job is helping the Santa Clara community. “I like my job because I know that my work matters on a higher level. People need what we’re doing, especially in today’s environment. We provide an essential service that keeps the city running.”

Mapping his path to Silicon Valley Power

Maintaining accurate utility maps and records is a crucial task. It is a key ingredient inRiad Holiday Photo for Blog helping us ensure system reliability and resiliency. This is one of the fields that Riad Sleiman specializes in, and why we were glad to bring him onto our team in fall 2019.

Riad joined our team after spending the past 14 years at Burbank Water and Power (BWP). He oversaw a 360-degree view of everything in the transmission and distribution side of electrical engineering at BWP. Ultimately, he was responsible for modernizing BWP’s engineering with smart grid analytics, bringing it into the 21st century.

“Utilities now have the technology needed to modernize records and integrate smart data feeds. This allows us to proactively identify any areas of concern before a problem could arise,” Riad explained. “If utilities have bad information, it will lead to bad results.”

After spending his first four years learning the ins and outs of transmission and distribution at BWP, Riad had the opportunity to become the senior member of his team. He became responsible for hiring a new generation of employees, teaching them everything he had learned over the previous few years and writing up processes to improve efficiency.

Now, as a principal electric utility engineer with us, Riad manages the electric maps and records group. He and his team document, update and maintain Santa Clara’s electric system assets, ensuring that all of our system records are fully up to date.

“I am excited to take what I had learned in Burbank and bring that knowledge to SVP,” Riad says. “I was ready for a new challenge in a new city.”

In his spare time, Riad also likes to use his technology skills to build robots for fun. He is currently designing and building a robot that is able to stand like a human, take in the tones and beat of any song, and then dance to the rhythm.

Riad is trying to get his daughter into robotics, too. He’d love for her to have fun with computers, just like her dad!

A Love for Problem-Solving

Justin Webb loves to figure things out.Silicon Valley Power Generation technician wearing a hard hat with the DVR power plant in the background

After earning a degree in industrial electronics, Justin soon put his problem-solving skills to the test while working at Loma Linda University Medical Center as a central utilities plant technician. One day, a damaged power pole took down the power plant that provided electricity and heat to the hospital. To make matters worse, the black-start generator for the plant failed to start. Justin had four hours to restore steam for heating before hospital staff would have to evacuate patients for health and safety concerns. Thinking on his feet, he was able to jump-start the black-start generator using the engine from a forklift and electric scooters that had 12-volt batteries. He remained calm under pressure and was able to restore power to the generator, plant and hospital.

Justin’s love for problem solving is what attracted him to a career in utilities. After spending five years at Loma Linda University, Justin worked at Calpine, a wholesale electric company, before joining our team at Silicon Valley Power. He has spent the past three years as an electric utility generation technician. In this role, Justin flexes his problem-solving muscles by ensuring that all systems at the Donald Von Raesfeld (DVR) Power Plant are operating correctly both physically and chemically.

“I really enjoy the troubleshooting aspect of my job,” Justin said. “It’s so fulfilling and satisfying when I am able to quickly identify and solve anything I may discover during my inspections.”

Justin also regulates the electrical generation at the DVR power plant, raising and lowering the output of the gas turbines based on demand from customers. He is part of a team of 17 people who all find satisfaction from problem-solving at work. “My team is so knowledgeable, cooperative and fun to be around,” Justin said. “I couldn’t think of a better crew to work with!”

On the weekends, Justin can be found in the outdoors with his wife and two young sons. They enjoy traveling the Sierras for hiking and camping, as well as spending hot summer weekends at the beach. Justin and his wife are currently training to hike Half Dome in Yosemite in the spring. After completing Half Dome, their next goal is to climb Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States.

From the Azores to Santa Clara

Paulo Apolinario holding a soccer ball with his son and daughter standign next to him on a soccer fieldLess than 1,000 miles off the coast of Europe lie the Azores, a small, Portuguese island chain known for its beautiful landscapes, relaxed lifestyle and delicious cuisine. These islands are paradise for any visitor, but they hold a special place in Paulo Apolinario’s heart.

“The Azores are my favorite place in the world,” explained Paulo. “My family is from the Azores – my dad is from São Jorge Island. Whenever I go to the Azores, I feel a strong connection to the land and my family. They are isolated islands in the middle of the ocean, so you are able to escape from the rest of the world and live life at a slower pace.”

Back home, Paulo lives in San Jose with his wife and two kids. He has always lived in the Bay Area, even attending Santa Clara University. After college, Paulo pursued a career in the health care industry, working for Kaiser Permanente in San Jose. But when a job opportunity working for us at SVP presented itself, Paulo jumped at the chance to join our team. He felt that our utility was the perfect place for him to apply his educational background in economics to his career, while working where he is constantly learning from his peers, growing professionally and contributing to California’s energy future.

Paulo originally joined our team as a power system scheduler and trader. In this position, he learned how the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) power markets and the electrical grid operated. He was responsible for forecasting, scheduling, purchasing, selling and managing electric resources in the hour-ahead and real-time markets. Today, Paulo works on a small team as a senior resource analyst, working on energy resource planning and procurement. He makes sure that future potential resources work well with the mission, vision and values laid out in our Strategic Plan.

“My job is really interesting because I am able to evaluate potential new resources to see if they would be a good fit for the utility. It is thrilling to be a part of something that contributes to the future of the utility – it keeps my job exciting!”

Outside of work, Paulo can be found spending time with his two children. They bond over sports – his son is a competitive soccer player, while his daughter enjoys taking swimming classes. This past summer, Paulo was able to take his children to the Azores for the first time. “They had never been before, so I was excited to be able to show them around and let them connect with their heritage.”

A job that was meant to be

Craig Lindquist has always enjoyed hands‑on work. He spent his early life dreaming of aCraig Lindquist photo skiing career that would both allow him to work outdoors and give him a sense of excitement. One day, some friends from his volunteer firefighting team told him about their jobs working as lineworkers. Craig was immediately intrigued and knew that this was what he was meant to do.

He began his tenure in the utility industry at PG&E working in its gas department, but he soon switched over to the electric side of the business to pursue his dream of becoming a lineworker. Once his mentor left PG&E for a job with us at Silicon Valley Power, he started to research our organization.

Craig loved what he found – he was amazed that we are able to provide a significant amount of electricity to major Silicon Valley companies while maintaining the feel of a small, family‑owned business. “Silicon Valley Power is the type of family environment I was looking for in a job,” reflected Craig. “I wanted to do the job that I loved while working for an organization that still feels like a ‘mom and pop shop’.” It was obvious to Craig that joining our team would be his next career move.

Craig has now been a part of our utility for 16 years. He currently works as a crew foreman, traveling to major job sites to coordinate with contractors and our crews to keep projects running smoothly and efficiently. In this role, Craig is also responsible for overseeing the safety of 30 lineworkers each day. He appreciates the fact that his job lets him serve as a leader and mentor to the younger team members, but occasionally still elects to climb electric poles himself to feel that same sense of excitement he was looking for when he first joined the industry.

Craig’s adventurous, outdoorsy tendencies extend outside of work. “I love to golf, go to the beach and ski. I also ride motorcycles – I am in the process of building a motorcycle that is going to be in a show, and I hope to take it to race at the Bonneville Salt Flats Race Track [in Utah].” His sense of adventure has also taken him around the world to South America and Europe, with Japan and New Zealand next on his travel bucket list.

There’s No Place Like Home

While Ted Salazar’s previous jobs took him around the world to Europe and China, his Ted Salazar with SVP Logo Signfavorite place is Santa Clara, California. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Ted settled down in Santa Clara with his wife in 1998. He always wanted to work for Silicon Valley Power, and was ecstatic to join our team in 2018.

Working here at SVP is an ideal job for Ted because supporting the electric grid is a dream come true for him. As an SVP electric program manager, Ted works together with his fellow team members to maintain and update Santa Clara’s electric utility system. He loves that his job enables him to learn something new from his coworkers every day, who he considers experts in their respective fields.

Although Ted is new to the utility sector, his background in electrical engineering and electric systems makes him an asset to our team. “I have designed and managed hardware, software and firmware product systems my entire career,” explained Ted. He has led cross‑functional industrial product system design teams for the majority of his career, both in the United States and abroad. His past team together designed the future technology solutions that companies needed for next‑generation products, like distinctive water and electric meters, unique firewalls and the world’s smallest programmable logic controllers and sensors. These products are similar to the type of equipment utilities use every day.

Ted is a self‑proclaimed “geeky athlete”. He played baseball throughout his childhood and was even invited to try out for the Colorado Rockies. And today, when Ted is not at work, he loves to take advantage of the great activities his backyard has to offer. He enjoys making an annual 5.3‑mile, 2,490‑foot‑elevation biking trip up Montebello Road in Cupertino with coworkers, friends, and family bold enough to tackle the ride.

At the end of the day, Ted is a family man. When sharing some of his favorite moments with his family, Ted included, “my wedding day, the day my son first beat me in a running race, my middle daughter having the courage to drive the car and my youngest daughter teaching herself how to solve the Rubik’s Cube.” He appreciates that his role here at SVP allows him to spend as much time as possible with his family.

Keeping It in the Family: Growing A Career and a Community Network at SVP

Working in the utility sector runs in Shreya Kodnadu’s family. Growing up, Shreya machu picchu - shreya solovisited substations and generation facilities in Bangalore, India, where her father worked. She took this passion with her to her undergraduate studies in Bangalore and then to Washington State University in 2010, where she received her master’s degree. Then, after more than three years as a protection engineer at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman, Washington, and a stint at Pennsylvania Power and Light, Shreya joined SVP in 2016 as a protection electrical engineer.

At SVP, Shreya works on programming and testing protective relays and analyzing power outage data. In her daily role, Shreya performs power system studies, compiles data to makes complex calculations and analyses, and troubleshoots problems with utility equipment and facilities. She loves that her job focuses on safety, reliability and helping the community. Shreya explained, “My favorite part of the job is working for the community. I can make a difference and see how my work directly affects Santa Clara residents and businesses.”

With the strong relationships Shreya has built at SVP, she is happy to be a part of the SVP family. “Not only is SVP serving Santa Clara residents and businesses, but I really enjoy the tight‑knit community at work. I continue to learn from and enjoy the company of my amazing colleagues. Collectively we work toward the same mission. That is why I love coming to work every day.”

When Shreya is not at work, she enjoys traveling and exploring the great outdoors. Shreya shared, “I love taking advantage of the outdoors, both locally and abroad. In 2015, my husband and I went on a six‑day backpacking trip to Machu Picchu, Peru, and I loved every moment. We look forward to our next backpacking adventure in Patagonia this winter.”

A Passion for Teaching: Mentoring Peers from Silicon Valley to Suriname

Fourteen years ago, Dawid Coetzee, one of our electric crew foremen, moved to the U.S.SVP Lineman Dawid Coetzee with his two young sons holding fish in front of their boat on a lake. from South Africa and fell in love with the adventurous, fearless nature of the jobs performed by lineworkers. As he became more experienced, he joined our team and eventually was made the leader of his own crew. The role is a natural fit for Dawid, who enjoys teaching and mentoring. Working for SVP has given him the opportunity to assist Santa Clara’s residents and businesses, his crew members and faraway communities.

As a utility worker in Santa Clara, Dawid enjoys being part of a power-intensive, technology-driven community that maintains its small-town values. Today, he builds and maintains power lines throughout the region with a tight-knit, 20-person team.

An experienced electric worker, Dawid serves as a thoughtful and caring mentor to the new apprentices in the organization. The long duration of a multiyear apprenticeship combined with the challenges of electric work make this a tough program for lineworkers in training. Dawid takes these individuals under his wing and teaches them not only how to complete tasks but also tricks of the trade so they can do well in their roles. He enjoys finding something new to learn or teach at every job site, no matter how big or small.

Dawid takes this same teaching approach beyond the Santa Clara community. Earlier this year, he traveled to Suriname, in South America, to host a safety training for local lineworkers and share his best practices. During the trip, he met lineworkers who were tackling extreme conditions in the Amazon with very few resources. The experience gave him a new perspective on his work, and he hopes to return to Suriname next year with new training that is specific to the needs of the country.

In his free time, Dawid enjoys traveling to the Eastern Sierra mountains with his wife and kids to camp, swim, fish and boat. His love of the outdoors brings him to the mountains and the ocean on a regular basis, giving him to time to explore California’s diverse natural environments.

Making waves as a power engineer

ChrisKarwick2At twenty-three years old, Chris Karwick was working as a merchant marine engineering officer aboard a commercial ship in Antarctica when he found himself in a perilous situation: The ship had become trapped in a thick sheet of ice due to engine failure. Days passed with no solution, and Chris, a manager with several direct reports, was asked for advice and direction. Together with other crew members, Chris helped organize a makeshift repair to the engine that allowed the ship to break free from the ice pack and be towed safely to New Zealand.  

High-stakes experiences like this have shaped Chris’ ability to think quickly on his feet and communicate in tough situations. After traveling the world, Chris decided to settle down in Silicon Valley and bring his engineering and leadership talents to the utilities and power generation sector.  

In his role as the Division Manager of Power Generation, Chris oversees our power generation assets inside and outside of Santa Clara, such as the Donald Von Raesfeld Power Plant and the Stony Gorge Hydroelectric Facility. On a day-to-day basis, he makes sure that power is produced and dispatched properly, that our operations meet environmental standards, and that the power generation staff maintains a safe workplace. Building off his past experience managing others, Chris enjoys helping his team members develop their skills.  

In his free time, Chris loves spending time with his wife and two kids in Santa Cruz camping, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors. He rekindles his sense of adventure as often as possible and tries to pass on his love of travel to his children.


Sparking Inspiration in Silicon Valley

Jeff Duncan of Silicon Valley Power in front of a ladder that leans against a utility pole.An adrenaline rush – that’s what a coal mine electrician experiences every day. The tough working conditions and challenging electrical problems in a mine test one’s endurance and ability to solve problems under pressure.  

After succeeding in this demanding workplace, Jeff Duncan was up for a new adventure. One year ago, he switched from the coal industry to the utility industry and moved to Santa Clara to work with us as an electric meter technician. Jeff made the switch because he wanted to work in a growing industry where he could develop new skills and advance his career. His love of Silicon Valley and technology made the decision to join our team even easier.  

As a meter technician, no day on the job is the same for Jeff. He has a range of responsibilities, from inspecting meters that are recording no usage to testing faulty wires. He also assists with Wi-Fi troubleshooting calls and resolves connectivity issues. While the electrical work itself remains similar, these applications are very different from his previous job. A techie, Jeff is happy to learn new skills on the job. “I see my job evolving to focus more on wireless communication services in the future,” Jeff says.  

Jeff has also found an encouraging community here at Silicon Valley Power, with colleagues who support his growth. “Every day is great when you are working around great people who can teach you new things,” Jeff says. In his free time, Jeff spends time with his wife and three daughters. They love to play family basketball games, setting aside quality time to exercise and have fun together.