Underground School

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Underground School

Underground School

Date: May 16-19, 2017
  • Day 1: 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm
  • Day 2: 8:30 am - 4:00 pm
  • Day 3: 8:30 am - 4:00 pm
  • Day 4: 8:30 am - 12:00 pm
Location: MMUA Training Center, 1004 Michigan Road, Marshall, MN
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Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association and our partners—Minnesota Rural Electric Association and American Public Power Association—are pleased to bring you the 2017 Underground School.

The Underground School offers a variety of hands-on training and an advanced technical course on underground distribution design. In addition to top-notch instructors, we strive to keep class sizes small to maximize participation and learning. Whether you are a seasoned Journeyman looking to stay current or are an Apprentice just starting out, this school offers something for everyone. 

What You Will Learn 


The General Sessions are held on the first and last day of the School. Participants must attend these sessions to receive full credit for course hours.

Tuesday, May 16

Competent Person Training for Excavations
Instructor: Bob Durkee, Sr. Safety Consultant, MnOSHA Consultation

This session will address the knowledge needed by the "competent person," as defined by OSHA. This class is based on the requirements of Subpart P of the federal OSHA CFR 1926 construction standards for trenching and excavations. Soil testing and requirements for protective systems will be covered, along with excavation hazards.

Friday, May 19

Advanced Rigging and Load Securement
Instructor: Marc Machacek, MMUA

This course is designed to expand lineworkers’ knowledge and understanding of rigging and loading transformers and other large equipment. The class will reference the Federal Motor Carrier Standards, MnOSHA regulations, MnDOT requirements and current best practices for load securement. Class participation will involve tabletop exercises including rigging and loading of equipment, the use of proper signaling and real-life investigations of improperly loaded equipment.

Fault Indicators
Instructor: Steven Cook, Rochester Public Utilities

This class will serve as an introduction to fault indicators, including:

  • The basics of how fault indicators work;
  • How fault indicators can be used to reduce time determining outage cause and speed restoration;
  • High-level review of the different styles of fault indicators and their applications.

Samples of fault indicators from several major suppliers will be looked at and discussed.


Registrants are to select ONE of the following classes. Classes are held concurrently on May 17-18. These classes are intended for lineworkers of all experience levels.

Class 1: Substation Feeder Circuit Construction
Instructors: Miles Heide and Wade Williams, Fairmont Public Utilities; Todd Keach and Rob Adamson, Rochester Public Utilities

This class will add a new feeder circuit out of the East substation. Crews will pull in 500 MCM wire from the sub to a riser location using state of the art pulling equipment. Participants will also be instructed on the correct ways of terminating in the substation and on the riser.

In addition, participants will be instructed on preparing the work site and identifying any hazards that may be in the area. This class will focus on safety and proper procedures to increase confidence and expand knowledge of the tasks at hand.

Class 2: Preventative Maintenance Using Infrared
Instructors: Paul Twite, Delano Municipal Utilities; Rich Maxfield, MMUA

This class is designed for both beginners and experienced users of infrared technology at electric utilities. We will discuss fundamentals of thermal properties and how it relates to electrical distribution maintenance as well as demonstrate new infrared cameras in a hands-on setting. We will work in teams to collect infrared images, make diagnosis of root cause and create a report to document the work.

Class 3: Underground System Maintenance, Repair and Troubleshooting
Instructors: Scott Thoreson, Elk River Municipal Utilities; Brad Olson, Brainerd Public Utilities; James Monroe, New Ulm Public Utilities

Underground system maintenance and repair is the heartbeat of your utility. The expertise to find and replace damaged or suspected problems before that unplanned outage is of paramount importance, given the use of computers and other sensitive electronics by your residential, business and industrial customers. Crews will be given an outage scenario and will need to figure out the correct way of restoring power hands-on, while following proper safety procedures.

Topics for this class include:

  • Proper Isolating, Testing and Grounding
  • Appropriate Methods When Installing and Removing Elbow Terminations
  • Tool Selection for Terminating Cable
  • Tailgate
  • Switching Procedure
  • Lock-Out/Tag-Out
  • Troubleshooting
  • Phase Identification
  • Rotation

Class 4: Underground Utility Locating
Instructors: Kevin Kollos, Ditch Witch of Minnesota and Iowa; Doug Reitz, Rycom Instruments

Since 1999 we've been improving the skills of hundreds of lineworkers and cable locating technicians from around the country. This class—developed through real-world experience and refined by more than a decade of classroom and field instruction—specializes in taking the fear out of locating through hands-on participation and assessment.

Participants will learn practical solutions to routine locating problems. In addition, they will gain an appreciation of their role in cable locating, along with damage prevention and recognizing bad locating habits. This class offers a variety of locating scenarios, designed to address the needs of electric utility employees attempting to meet OSHA standards and best practices.


This class is intended for seasoned lineworkers, engineers who may be new to the field of linework, staking personnel and other appropriate personnel.

Class 5: Underground Distribution Design, Protection & Management
Instructor: Gary Roskos, Roskos Technical Services

Underground distribution design is a complex and extensive capital venture. Understanding proper system layout and design, coupled with critical planning, is essential to ensure system reliability, operability and economic return on utility investments.

During this course we will review fundamental principles of proper underground design and all aspects of proper planning. Topics will include:

  • Financial Consideration of System Expansion—Can we afford it? How do we pay for it? What is depreciation and why is it important?
  • Near-term & Long-term Needs of the Electrical System
  • Substation Expansion & Planning
  • Feeder Capacity, Design
  • Switchgear & Protective Schemes; Device Considerations
  • Reliability System—Maintenance & Future Expansion
  • Proper Transformer Sizing—Commercial, Residential; Transformer Evaluation by Loss Evaluation Methods

Breakout Session

Wednesday, May 17 & Thursday, May 18

Tabletop Splicing and Terminations
Instructors: Jim Stephens, 3M; Jeff Martinson, Austin Utilities

For utilities looking for a reliable alternative to compression connections, 3M offers the Shearbolt Connectors, QCI Series. Jim will demonstrate how to properly terminate a splice using volunteers to assist him. This breakout session will be ongoing on Wednesday and Thursday, rotating students so each has an opportunity to participate.

Lineworker Rodeo Mystery Event

This mystery event is open to all classes of lineworker, from first-year apprentice to the advanced journeyman. This is a fun event which demonstrates safe working practices and a little speed. A trophy plaque will be awarded to the person with the best time and fewest infractions.

Optional Evening Activities

Tuesday, May 16

Pizza Reception
The reception is a great venue for reconnecting with old friends and meeting new people, while enjoying free pizza!

Wednesday, May 17

Sporting Clay Shoot or Golf
At participant’s expense, we will arrange a fun evening of golf at one of the local golf courses in the Marshall area or an evening of sporting clays at Shooter’s Gun Club.


Tuesday, May 16

12:00-1:00 pm  Registration
1:00-4:00 pm  Competent Person
5:00-7:00 pm  Pizza Reception at The Gambler

Wednesday, May 17

8:30 am-4:00 pm  Breakout Session: Tabletop Splicing & Terminations
8:30 am-12:00 pm  Hands-On and Advanced Lineworker Class
12:00-1:00 pm  Lunch served at Training Center
1:00-4:00 pm  Hands-On and Advanced Lineworker Class
5:00 pm  Golfing or Sporting Clay Shoot (at participant's expense)

Thursday, May 18

8:30 am-4:00 pm  Breakout Session: Tabletop Splicing & Terminations
8:30 am-12:00 pm  Hands-On and Advanced Lineworker Class
12:00-1:00 pm  Lunch served at Training Center
1:00-3:00 pm  Hands-On and Advanced Lineworker Class
3:00-4:00 pm  Lineworker Rodeo Mystery Event

Friday, May 19

8:30-10:30 am  Advanced Rigging and Load Securement
11:00 am-12:00 pm  Fault Indicators


Participants earn hours for attendance and a certificate of achievement will be available online. Participants should watch for an email notification from MMUA.

Hotel / Motel Information - Marshall, MN

For a map of hotels in Marshall, click HERE. The AmericInn and Ramada have special pricing. Just ask for MMUA's reduced rate.

Registration Fee

$440 per student for members; $690 per student for non-members. All fees increase $50 on April 15.
Fee includes: workshop tuition, materials, pizza reception, two lunches, refreshment breaks and a certificate of achievement.

Deadline to register is April 24, 2017.


A refund will be given on advance registrations if the MMUA office is notified by 4:30 pm on April 24, 2017. A cancellation fee of $25 per person will be charged.


By registering for this event I/we authorize Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association (MMUA) to photograph me at this event and use such photographs in MMUA marketing materials (both electronic and print). I/we understand that I/we will not be paid for giving this consent. 


If you have questions about the program and its content, contact Cody Raveling by email craveling@mmua.org or phone 507.380.9578.

If you have questions or problems with registration or reservations, contact Theresa Neddermeyer by email tneddermeyer@mmua.org or phone 763.551.1230.

A printable version of the Underground School brochure is also available.


Thank You, Annual Sponsors

View all Annual Sponsors

Video Captures 2016 Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo

We now have a 4-minute rodeo recap video of the 2016 Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo, live on the MMUA YouTube channel.  It features great footage and interviews with a number of key players in the event.  The April 2 event was hosted by Shakopee Public Utilities and MMUA, and brought together lineworkers from across the country. Watch this video and enjoy reliving that amazing day.  Be sure to bundle up before you click!