Kempinski and Svanes to pursue careers as electric lineworkers
Mark Kempinski II, of Ignacio, and Alexander Svanes, of Bayfield, have been awarded the inaugural La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) Lineman Scholarships.
The La Plata Electric Lineman Scholarship program funds two annual scholarships covering tuition, fees and books, not to exceed $12,000 each for up to one year at an accredited institution, including a vocational school, technical school, junior college or university in the United States, majoring in an electric line worker program.
A graduate of Ignacio High School, Kempinski interned in LPEA’s warehouse in 2016 and expressed his interest in line work at the time and will now attend Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction (also known as “Hotline School”) to train as a potential lineman.
In his application essay he noted, “My goals are to be the absolute best I can at what I do, which is by being a member of the line crew. To me working out in the field with electricity is one of the best things out there. It is not only fun, but you know for people who pay for their electricity, it will make them happy. I want to help bring the community together, and I want to put a smile on everyone’s face that crosses my path.”
Svanes is a graduate of Bayfield High School, and will also attend Colorado Mesa University as a classmate of Kempinski in the school’s electric lineworker program.
Of his future plans, Svanes wrote, “My primary reason for wanting to be a Journeyman Lineman is that it will be a fulfilling career helping to provide a needed service to others. Growing up in rural areas, I have seen how important electricity is to rural America… A goal of mine is to work in a cooperative so that I can help better the community. I have seen how electric cooperatives benefit the communities they serve, in addition to providing electricity.”
Applications for all LPEA scholarships are reviewed by independent committees made up of community members with no direct knowledge of or connection to applicants. Alex Svanes is the son of LPEA Chief Financial Officer Dennis Svanes.
Receipt of the LPEA scholarships do not necessarily guarantee the students positions at LPEA, but the cooperative aspires to support the next generation of Linemen industry-wide.
“There are more than 900 rural electric cooperatives across the country that need these skilled individuals, not to mention the investor-owned and municipal utilities,” said Justin Talbot, LPEA manager of operations and a Journeyman Lineman. “Linemen are in great demand, and we want to make it easier for these young men to pursue this specialized career.”
Once out of school, Kempinski and Svanes will seek Apprentice Lineman positions – typically four-year programs with an electric company – and complete their Journeyman Lineman. During their college studies, the two will be eligible for summer internships at LPEA.
Funds for all LPEA scholarships come from the cooperative’s Unclaimed Capital Credits. Each year, LPEA endeavors to find “missing” members who are due a share of retired Capital Credits. Those funds unable to be returned to members are then put back into the community – in this case, into scholarships.
LPEA, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative established in 1939, provides to its more than 30,000 members, with in excess of 42,000 meters, safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost, while being environmentally responsible.