The Official Publication of the Power & Communication Contractors Association 3rd Quarter 2022 White House Announces $2.3 Billion to Strengthen and Modernize America’s Power Grid New EEOC Guidance: Business Necessity of COVID-19 Screening Testing No Longer Presumed PCCA Helps Block Project Labor Agreements, Works to Expand Private Activity Bonds FCC Rejects RDOF Applications from Starlink and LTD Broadband Trading on Excellence: The Value of Talented Field Leaders
AT32 DIRECTIONAL DRILL ©2022 The Charles Machine Works, Inc. The next generation of rock drilling is here—with the Ditch Witch® AT32 All Terrain Directional Drill. 32,000 lbs of thrust/pullback combined with a low-bulk footprint gives you all the rock-crushing power you want and the profile your jobs demand. Learn more at ditchwitch.com.
NEVER IDLE Power is nothing without control. That’s why we’re constantly innovating workhorses to be more precise. With integrated tech that enables machines to know how deep and where to dig – even under water or in the dark. Or see what the crew can’t for added safety. Allowing a lessseasoned operator to trench, load, and drill like a surgeon. DEERE.COM/EXCAVATORS 35 TON SCALPEL.
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 5 3rd Quarter 2022 Official Publication of the Power & Communication Contractors Association Publication Staff PO Box 638 Churchton, Maryland 20733 (800) 542-PCCA • www.pccaweb.org ©2022 Power & Communication Contractors Association Publisher TimothyWagner Editor Michael Ancell Advertising Sales Stacy Bowdring Photography Jorge de Casanova Information Technology Greg Smela Accounting James Wagner Layout & Design JosephWagner New EEOC Guidance: Business Necessity of COVID-19 Screening Testing No Longer Presumed 10 By Greg Guidry Just when we thought COVID-19 was going away, it makes another appearance in the form of Omicron BA.5. And unfortunately, federal labor agencies keep shifting their opinions on what employers should do. On July 12, the EEOC updated its position in light of the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now employers are required to “assess whether current pandemic circumstances and individual workplace circumstances justify viral screening testing.” Trading on Excellence: The Value of Talented Field Leaders 15 By Ethan Cowles, FMI World-class construction firms understand the value of focusing on those working in the field and of inverting their organizational pyramid so that field supervisors, superintendents, and project managers are prioritized instead of executives. This puts the organizational emphasis on individuals who are out in the field every day planning projects, setting goals, ensuring safety protocols are followed, training up-and-comers, boosting morale, managing risk, and demonstrating best practices. The livelihood of their companies depends on these individuals’ day-to-day work. Inside Washington | By Jaime Steve & Zack Perconti 7 In Memoriam: Tim Killoren 13 Power News 21 Broadband News 25 News Briefs 31 PCCA Member News 34 Industry Calendar 39 New PCCA Members 39 Advertiser Index 39 Officer Directors Board of Directors Garrett Akin Brooks Construction Co., LLC Nick Anderson Anderson Underground, Inc. John Audi MasTec North America, Inc. Robert Breeden ElectriCom, Inc. Jeff Brown Global Machinery Bonnie Burnham Service Electric Company John Capodice Sterling Site Solutions Josh DeBruine Michels Corporation Justin Druffel Caterpillar, Inc. John Fluharty Mears Group, Inc. Robin Gilbertson J&R Underground, LLC Chase Lapcinski Push, Inc. Steve Sellenriek (Advisory) UtiliSource Sam Stephens Tjader & Highstrom Jason Tyler Brooks Construction Co., LLC Billy Vincent ElectriCom, Inc. Michael Whitebread J.J. Kane Auctioneers Chris Wozniak Intercon Construction, Inc. Chairman Jerrod Henschel Equix, Inc. Chairman-Elect Ed Campbell HMI Communications 1st Vice Chairman Matthew Gabrielse Gabe’s Construction Co., Inc. 2nd Vice Chairman Rob Pribyl MP Nexlevel, LLC Treasurer Craig Amerine Amerine Utilities Construction, Inc Secretary Heath Sellenriek Sellenriek Construction
www.tallmanequipment.com Call Toll Free: 877-860-5666 IMPACT ADAPTERS® TOUGHER THAN THE REST DDIN IMPACT ADAPTERS AVAILABLE FROM: DDIN Impact Adapters are purpose-built to handle all the abuse linemen can throw at them. The unique demands of the utility industry push tools and gear to the limit, but through rigorous formulation and testing, DDIN has engineered impact adapters that will outlast the competition and hold up through the toughest of jobs. No other brand can withstand the levels of torque that the DDIN Impact Adapters power through. When you need the best, you need DDIN, because DDIN is tougher than the rest. Sizes: Red - 7/16” Hex to 1/2” Square, Yellow - 1/4” Hex to 1/2″ Square, Green - 1/4″ Hex to 3/8” Square
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 7 InsideWashington continued on page 8 InsideWashington PCCA Helps Block Project Labor Agreements, Works to Expand Private Activity Bonds Working to protect and grow your business is a privilege, and we greatly appreciate your trust in us. We are constantly on the lookout for things that might threaten—or better yet, help grow—your business and meet America’s generational challenge to close the digital divide. Here are some key issues we have been working on in Congress to block the bad things and gain the good ones. Blocking Mandatory Project Labor Agreements Recently, we helped block an effort in the House of Representatives to make project labor agreements (PLAs) mandatory on federally funded projects like broadband buildouts or energy system upgrades. You may recall that the Biden administration recently issued an executive order that encouraged the use of PLAs on federal construction projects of $35 million or more but did not actually require PLAs. In July, Rep. Dale Kilmer (DWash.) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) proposed making PLAs required by law. In July, pressure from PCCA and other construction trade groups helped get the proposal pulled from consideration as part of the annual Department of Defense spending bill. We fully expect the mandatory PLA effort to come up again before the end of the year. When it does, we are ready for the fight. PCCA’s argument against government-mandated PLAs is that they are jobsite-specific collective bargaining agreements unique to the construction industry that needlessly increase costs and unfairly limit competition by some of America’s best contractors. Ultimately, they exclude almost 9 of every 10 construction workers from the middle-class jobs and benefits created by government investment in infrastructure via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 and other measures passed by Congress that fund public works contracts without government-mandated PLA requirements. Typical terms within PLAs unfairly discourage competition from quality merit-shop contractors and their employees, who comprise 87.4 percent of the private U.S. construction industry workforce, according Jaime Steve Government Affairs Solutions, LLC firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 841-5493 Zack Perconti Government Affairs Solutions, LLC email@example.com (703) 677-6049
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 8 Inside Washington Continued from page 7 PLUMETTAZ DUCT RODDERS SIZES AVAILABLE: • 1/8" x 100 ft. • 1/4" x 400 ft. • 1/8" x 150 ft. • 3/8" x 600 ft. • 1/8" x 350 ft. • 3/8" x 1,000 ft. • 3/16" x 200 ft. • 1/2" x 600 ft. • 3/16" x 300 ft. • 1/2" x 1,000 ft. Plumettaz America Corp. 225 Thrasher Pike, Soddy Daisy, TN 37379 www.plumettaz.com, 1-855-PLUMETT Plumettaz duct rodders are ideal for underground jobs such as pulling cables through conduits and ducts. Each rodder is supplied with a highly visible solid fiberglass coated rod installed on a sturdy frame for convenience of use for any jobsite. to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data For example, a PLA typically requires companies to agree to recognize unions as the representatives of their employees on that job, use the union hiring hall to obtain most or all construction labor, exclusively hire apprentices from union programs, follow union work rule, and pay into union benefit and multiemployer pension plans. This forces employers whose workers have freely made the choice not to join a union to pay “double benefits” into their existing employee benefit plans and union plans and places these qualified firms at a significant competitive disadvantage. In addition, research suggests that the few nonunion employees permitted to work on a PLA jobsite lose 34 percent of wages and benefits unless they pay union dues and/or join a union and meet benefits plan vesting schedules. In short, these anticompetitive provisions in typical PLAs promote wage theft, eliminate employee choice for union representation, and make it extremely difficult for many merit-shop, and typically small, minority- or women-owned firms, to win public works contracts subject to anti-competitive PLAs. In addition, when mandated by government agencies, PLAs can supersede and interfere with existing collective bargaining agreements that contractors have already negotiated with various unions and prevent firms from using labor from certain unions. Expanding Private Activity Bonds to Boost Broadband Investment PCCA is working with the office of Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) in support of his effort to encourage greater private investment in broadband. Budd’s legislation would increase the amount and reach of private activity bonds (PABs) to help fund more buildouts. As part of the recently enacted bipartisan infrastructure bill, qualified broadband projects were finally eligible to be funded through the issuing of PABs. PABs are tax-exempt bonds issued by or on behalf of local and state governments to provide funding for private projects that will have an overwhelmingly public benefit. PABs allow states and cities to issue competitively priced bonds, decreasing project costs and increasing the likelihood that broadband projects will be pursued in areas where returns on investment may be less than in other areas.
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 9 PABs have been a successful tool to help increase the provision of goods and services that increase the public welfare without having to commit either tax dollars upfront or the full faith and credit of the U.S. in the case of default. The total value of PABs that can be issued for certain projects are capped per state at the greater of $105 per state resident or $311.31 million, adjusted for inflation annually. The Encouraging Private Investment for Better Broadband Act will build upon the broadband PAB provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure bill to maximize private investment in qualified broadband projects. The definition of qualified broadband projects would be tweaked to include projects that are intended to serve areas where more than 50 percent of residents do not have access to fixed, terrestrial broadband service at speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (mbps) downstream and 20 mbps upstream. In contrast, the infrastructure bill pegged eligibility at speeds of at least 25 mbps downstream and 3 mbps upstream. This change would increase the number of areas eligible for PAB broadband funding and align with efforts to update internet speed standards for other grant programs. Projects fitting that definition would be eligible to be funded through PABs that would be 100 percent exempted from state PAB volume cap. Currently, PABs for privately owned broadband infrastructure are only 75 percent exempted from state caps. Finally, Budd’s bill would require the Treasury Department and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to issue a report to Congress detailing how these changes to PAB financing increased the volume of tax-exempt bonds and improved the provision of acceptable broadband nationwide. As part of that report, both the Treasury Department and the FCC will need to solicit input from appointed representatives of the governor of each state as well as representatives of the three largest internet service providers in each state as measured by revenue. Bridging the digital divide is a bipartisan priority that cannot be ignored. The 117th Congress has taken some important steps to get more serious and involved in the effort to ensure Americans can fully take advantage of the online economy no matter where they live. Harnessing immense private capital through the utilization of PABs for broadband projects would increase internet service outcomes without relying on tax dollars and bureaucratic grant distribution decision making. These efforts are all part of achieving what PCCA Government Affairs Committee member Dan Levac calls “a generational challenge” for America to fully build out its high-speed fiber broadband infrastructure. Existing Cable 2 MicroDucts with MicroCables 2" Conduit duraline.com • (800) 847-7661 Think to the FUTURE, MAXIMIZE your conduits Override your existing communication cable with MicroDucts & MicroCables
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 10 Just when we thought COVID-19 was going away, it makes another appearance in the form of Omicron BA.5. And unfortunately, federal labor agencies keep shifting their opinions on what employers should do. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took the position that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standard for conducting medical examinations (job-related and consistent with business necessity) was always met for COVID-19 viral screening testing. On July 12, the EEOC updated its position (www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-aboutcovid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws) in light of the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now employers are required to “assess whether current pandemic circumstances and individual workplace circumstances justify viral screening testing.” The EEOC made it clear that this new update is not a pronouncement on whether “testing is or is not warranted.” Instead, the new update allows employers to make their own assessments, given the evolving nature of the pandemic, to determine whether testing is consistent with the requirements of the ADA. The EEOC has given several possible considerations for employers evaluating the business necessity of viral testing, including: • Level of community transmission, • Vaccination status of employees, • Accuracy and speed of the various types of COVID-19 viral tests, • Likelihood of breakthrough infections in those up to date on vaccinations, • Possible severity of illness and ease of transmissibility of the current variant or variants, • Type of contacts employees may have with others in the workplace or elsewhere (e.g., contact with medically vulnerable individuals), and • Potential impact on operations if an employee enters the workplace with COVID-19. The EEOC directs employers to check the latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to determine whether viral screening testing is appropriate for the employees who will be tested. It is important to note that any testing must be viral, as the EEOC continues to forbid antibody testing. The EEOC also modified its guidance for employers’ requirements of an employee returning to work after a COVID-19 infection. The EEOC continues to allow an employer to require a doctor’s note certifying it is safe for an employee to return (no risk of transmission) and that the employee is able to perform the job duties. The EEOC notes that COVID-19 is not always a disability, so such an inquiry might not be a disability-related inquiry; if it were, however, “it would be justified” because it would be consistent with the business necessity standard, as it would be “related to the possibility of transmission and/or related to [the] employer’s objective concern about the employee’s ability to resume working.” The EEOC now also states that employers may, as an alternative, simply follow CDC guidance to determine whether it is safe for an employee to return. Key Takeaways Employers may want to consider examining any mandatory screening testing program to determine whether it is consistent with business necessity. In addition, employers may HUMAN RESOURCES Greg Guidry Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org (337) 769-6583 New EEOC Guidance: Business Necessity of COVID-19 Screening Testing No Longer Presumed
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 11 want to continue to monitor the ever-changing guidance from the CDC, as well as state and local health departments, when reviewing their COVID-19 screening and response protocols. Employers may also want to keep records of the changing guidance, as this will allow them to demonstrate reliance on these changes for any future challenges to their COVID-19 policies. Practical Tips for Effective Disciplinary Documentation It is a reality that lack of documentation or poor documentation by supervisors of poor performance or misconduct by employees they supervise will make it difficult to successfully defend a claim, charge, or lawsuit after a termination occurs. The old adage “If you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen” rings true in today’s litigious environment. The following checklist lists some practical considerations and issues to consider and train your supervisors on. 1. It is critical that an employee’s overall disciplinary record, as well as the record of the particular incident giving rise to a discharge, be carefully documented. 2. At a bare minimum, proper documentation requires that all instances of corrective counseling, verbal or written warnings, suspensions, or other disciplinary action be recorded in the employee’s file, or in a supervisor’s or human resources file kept on the employee. If you store these matters electronically, ensure that they are secure in case of cyber attacks or technology disruptions. Take precautions to keep personnel files and disciplinary documentation in secure places so that they can’t be destroyed by the subject employees. 3. When discipline is necessary, the file should contain the following: a. A succinct description of the incident giving rise to the disciplinary action. JUST THE FACTS. b. A listing of the individuals who witnessed the incident, and in discharge cases their signed statements. c. A description of the investigative procedures that were followed prior to imposing discipline. d. The originals of any physical evidence that might be involved. e. A complete statement of the employee’s version of the relevant facts when differences exist. Human Resources continued on page 12 Crews that won’t back down deserve a uniform that won’t either. Outfit your crew in quality and durable gear they actually want to wear. Carhartt Company Gear™ is the uniform your people will wear with pride. Available to order through CCS, with a dedicated uniform team and in-house embroidery for quick turnaround. Together, Carhartt and CCS have your uniform needs covered. Learn More About Our Referral Program at cableconnectionsupply.com/carhartt For Immediate Contact, reach out to Mark Howells: email@example.com or 651-357-5120 RUGGED FLEX® RELAXED FIT CANVAS FLEECE-LINED SNAP-FRONT SHIRT JAC BY CARHARTT COMPANY GEAR™ Back by Popular Demand!
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 12 f. Precise records of any remedial efforts or conferences that precede a termination decision. 4. Records should be specific as to time, date, location, and names. A good employment document usually includes the following elements: a. The date the document was written. b. A title of the document, e.g., written warning, performance evaluation, notice of termination. c. Specific details of the events leading to the documentation. d. A place for the supervisor to sign and date, reflecting that it was explained to the employee. e. A place for the employee to sign and date, reflecting that it was received by the employee. f. A place for the employee to comment. 5. When warnings are given, the employees should be asked to sign the warning. If the employee refuses, it should be noted on the face of the form and signed by the individual who gave the warning and witnessed the employee’s refusal to sign. 6. Warnings should specify the prospect of future disciplinary action in the event that behavior or performance problems remain uncorrected. When appropriate, the exact nature of future disciplinary action should be specified. Give a directive, and identify consequences for failure to meet the directive. 7. Documents should contain only objective facts and conclusions. a. Avoid the use of emotionally charged or judgmental words. E.g., thief, fool, idiot. b. Avoid injections of personal opinion. c. Avoid any racial or ethnic references 8. Make sure your documents tell the truth about the reasons for disciplinary action or termination. False reasons can get you in big trouble, particularly when in writing. 9. Your file is not your junk drawer. Though drafts are appropriate, only keep what you want to be the “official record.” You cannot destroy or screen documents once a claim arises, so destroy preliminary drafts, random notes, or anything else that you haven’t given appropriate consideration as a worthy employment record. 10. Remember the ultimate audience. Your records may be reviewed by a federal investigator, judge, or jury. Write clearly and avoid unnecessary technical jargon. MILWAUKEE® has taken the time to understand users’ needs and develop personal protective equipment from the ground up, delivering hard hats that allow users to adapt to each job and safety glasses that can be worn all day with lasting, fog-free lenses. MILWAUKEE® is focused on creating innovative PPE solutions that won’t slow users down, helping them STAY SAFE. STAY PRODUCTIVE.™ MORE LEARN or visit https://qr.mke.tl/2xs3y Human Resources Continued from page 11
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 13 In Memoriam: Tim Killoren PCCA is saddened to report the passing of Tim Killoren, PCCA Past Chairman, longtime Board member, and a dear friend to many in our association and our industry. A memorial Mass was held on June 11 in Pickerel, Wis. The family says that a memorial fund in Tim’s name will be established, and PCCA will keep you updated. Our prayers go out to Nancy, Laura, and the rest of Tim’s family. Below is Tim’s obituary from the Antigo Daily Journal. Timothy Donald Killoren, 69, of Pickerel, passed away peacefully on June 6, 2022. Tim’s determination to battle many health challenges was an inspiration to all who knew him. He was a proud and tough Irishman. Tim married Nancy Grassl, his high school sweetheart, and they celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary on May 8. He was a loving and devoted father to Kenny (deceased) and Laura. He was a great brother and a fun and caring uncle. Tim was the son of Don and Carol Killoren. He grew up in Appleton and graduated from Xavier High School in 1971. He then went to work for the family business, Killoren Company, with his father and brothers. In 1986, he began his own utility construction company, K&S Construction Inc., with partner Roger Stevens. Later in life he became a consultant in the utility construction industry and enjoyed sharing his knowledge with colleagues. Tim’s family brought him the greatest joy. He also enjoyed spending time with friends and family, especially the many years hunting at deer camp in Pelican Lake and his annual fishing trips to Canada. Other favorite pastimes include racing, auto mechanics, and traveling. He served as president of Poygan Land Company and president of the Power and Communication Contractors Association 2015-16. He was a member of St. Mary Parish in Pickerel.
78th ANNUAL CONVENTION Nobu Hotel at Eden Roc, Miami Beach, Florida March 3-8, 2023 Industry Education • Premium Networking • Great Times!
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 15 When engineering and construction (E&C) firms think about leadership development, the focus naturally goes to C-suite and business development teams. While those managers are a critical part of a firm’s ultimate success, companies often neglect to develop on-site leaders who are ensuring projects are completed to exacting standards, on time, and on budget. World-class construction firms understand the value of focusing on those working in the field and of inverting their organizational pyramid so that field supervisors, superintendents, and project managers are prioritized instead of executives (Exhibit 1). This puts the organizational emphasis on individuals who are out in the field every day planning projects, setting goals, ensuring safety protocols are followed, training up-and-comers, boosting morale, managing risk, and demonstrating best practices. The livelihood of their companies depends on these individuals’ day-to-day work. Finding and Keeping Good Field Leaders There are two major challenges to finding and keeping good field leaders. The first is the construction talent shortage. Labor shortages were the second most common cause cited for project delays in the 2022 AGC/FMI Surety Bonding and Construction Risk Management Study, and in-house staffing capabilities were identified as a major determinant for project go/no-go decisions. Field supervisors, project managers, and superintendents represent an outsized slice of the struggle to attract and retain talented people. Of the CEOs surveyed for the second quarter 2022 Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT), nearly twothirds (63 percent) reported difficulties finding field managers. Twenty-nine percent said they were experiencing high Trading on Excellence: The Value of Talented Field Leaders By Ethan Cowles, FMI Continued on page 16
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 16 turnover in their management field staffs. The second challenge among field leaders is the trend toward being asked to do too much too soon. FMI Project Manager Academy data indicates that overwork and a lack of skills training and career support are huge issues in construction. Research shows that stress and burnout are more pervasive among less experienced construction workers and that professional development is the antidote. Most firms recognize the importance of talent development, but many of them overlook the need for field staff to hone their business skills. Almost all CIRT members teach leadership and managerial skills, but only a third put a focus on business acumen. Field supervisors are in a position of leadership and need experience and training to plan projects, prevent rework, and keep crews productive. Both formalized skills training and systemic processes that foster learnings have an outsized impact on project performance. Here we identify key opportunities to help field leaders take operations to the next level. Pre-Planning Involvement Often, field supervisors only come into the office when they are between projects. When the backlog is full, they are out on the jobsite. This is a missed opportunity because when field leaders are involved in project planning, they become project managers and can assess the logistics of mobilization and document what they need based on the scope of work. Once they have been brought into the loop with the general contractor, field supervisors can visit the jobsite and consider their manpower, tools, equipment, materials, and additional information needs. Those needs can then be procured by project managers, superintendents, and purchasing teams. On early visits to the jobsite, field supervisors should consider: • Access to site for delivery trucks and machinery. • Traffic patterns, school zones, foot traffic, and neighborhood particulars. • Utility locations, locates, and overhead restrictions. • Locations for parking and portable toilets. • Location and size of laydown yards. M&A Advisors Serving Clients in Utilities and Communication Infrastructure FMICAPITALADVISORS.COM firstname.lastname@example.org Our industry relationships, deep market knowledge and technical expertise help you achieve your M&A goals. Trading on Excellence Continued from page 15
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 17 • Status of project: Is it/will it be ready to mobilize, etc.? Following the site visit, a field leader should: • Create a list of tools and equipment needed. • Set out the first set of goals and short-interval plans. What do we need to be productive for day one, hour one? • Provide input/confirmation on budget and schedule. • List any questions or concerns to be answered prior to mobilization. FMI’s research shows that early involvement by field supervisors lifts productivity, profitability, and overall project success. Field leaders with budget management, performance tracking, mentoring, time management, and other project management training can do a better job of lifting overall performance. Case Study A mechanical contractor was feverishly putting together its final numbers for a bid. Minutes before the deadline, it successfully submitted the numbers. Soon the company was notified that it had won the job, with a lot of money left on the table. Instantly, the company began to suspect it missed something. As it reviewed the data, the contractor found a row of numbers were left out of the spreadsheet’s formula sum. About 15 percent of the project’s labor, equipment, and material was not included in the final numbers. The company decided to go forward with the project anyway. Knowing what it had missed, the company added back the needed budget dollars and hours before it handed the project over to the field. “Look, we had an estimating bust on this project. We added the needed dollars and hours into the budget once we found the mistake. We want to hold you accountable for a realistic budget. We know that we will be losing money on this project if we cannot make up for the bust with increased productivity.” Results The field staff knew the labor budget given to them was accurate and that they had an opportunity to help the company perform in a tough situation. With the support, hard work, and some great ideas from the field, the project ended up almost breaking even. Compared with the original budgeted Continued on page 18
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 18 loss, this was seen as a huge victory. The field knew where they were being held accountable and where the office would be held accountable. Overall, morale and trust were built up rather than destroyed through the experience. Skills Training and Mentorship Previous generations of field leaders learned through on-site experience and may not have formal training. That means that the knowledge passed on to up-and-coming leaders is limited. Now, with a shortage of experienced field leaders, people are being asked to lead or make decisions without the experience or supervision they may have had in the past. As we know, training helps with talent retention as well as the bottom line of a project. So what can be done? Start by assessing your employees’ skills and competencies. Define the minimum requirements for roles and what is needed to meet or exceed those expectations. Next, make sure you can measure these skills, and if someone is found lacking, offer resources to support them. Creating a learning lab for younger project managers exposes them to complex projects and operations. This builds confidence and can reduce the risk of burnout. Formal mentoring arrangements enable knowledge transfer and--as they gain proficiency and experience- -ultimately allow more staff members to take ownership of projects. Mentoring can also serve as a crucial part of succession planning at different levels. However, the lack of formal training programs in the past means that senior leaders may not be skilled at teaching inexperienced workers. This can be addressed with leadership training for those with valuable job knowledge and ongoing skills training as people progress in the field. Project Tracking Project performance is measured by daily job achievements and whether teams are keeping up with the schedule and budget or not. If field leaders don’t know where a project stands or how it’s performing, then no one else will either. Crews and their supervisors need to see on a weekly basis how they’re measuring compared to the budget. Goal setting is a tool that can provide accountability for crews and help field leaders develop instincts about how best to maximize performance. Leaders should consider the daily jobsite conditions, their staffing, individuals’ skills, where the material is located, whether the area is ready for them, and what scopes of work will be executed. Using that information, they can develop a written production goal for that day. Trading on Excellence Continued from page 17
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 19 This creates buy-in from the team. At the end of the day, taking time to ask questions about what went well and what needs improvement hones the team’s understanding of the job and helps even inexperienced tradespeople to think strategically. Then, on a weekly basis, teams need to know how they are performing against the budget. This is where formal project tracking can be a powerful tool for foremen. The simplest and most effective way to track performance is with an earned value graph (Exhibit 2) containing cost codes, budgeted hours, budgeted number of units, and then actual hours and units installed. This will provide a clear and comprehensive picture of risk and progress against the budget. Color-coded graphs can make this information especially vivid. A few other rules to follow include: • Keep it visual. Graphical information is easier and faster to process and understand than written reports. • Make it timely. Be sure to update information and numbers regularly. • Be concise. Anyone looking at the information should be able to understand what it is saying in 15 seconds or less. • Think simplicity. Make sure the key information is at the forefront and save projections, averages, and trends for after the job is completed. Invest in Field Leaders or Risk Losing Them Field leaders, supervisors, and project managers understand projects better than anyone else. The view from the corporate box simply doesn’t capture the complexity of what’s happening on the ground. No matter how finely tuned the communication channels, no one knows where a project stands unless someone out in the field is tracking its performance. Field leaders touch almost all aspects of a job and shoulder a significant share of project risk. They are at risk of burnout, being poached, and/or leaving the industry. Investing in their skills isn’t just a project imperative; it can help you win the game. Companies that invest in field supervisors can lower business risk by building a deep pipeline of strong talent, enhance their ability to execute on project, increase employee engagement and organizational loyalty, and improve field leaders’ ability to take on greater responsibility. Only then can individuals reach their peak potential as leaders, understand their leadership effectiveness through feedback and coaching, and learn how to improve their leadership performance. As a partner at FMI, Ethan Cowles frequently writes and speaks on topics pertaining to construction operations and has earned an industry reputation for helping contractors focus on making the field successful while positively affecting margins. He also serves as the director of FMI’s Project Manager Academy. Before joining FMI, Ethan spent many years working his way up the construction ranks and held jobs as a carpenter, foreman, superintendent, and project manager. During this time, he managed projects ranging from quick-turn tenant improvement projects to large land development projects. Ethan is a former United States Marine heavy equipment operator and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. About FMI. For more than 60 years, FMI has been a leading management consulting and investment banking firm dedicated exclusively to engineering and construction, infrastructure, and the built environment. FMI serves all sectors of the industry as a trusted advisor. More than six decades of context, connections, and insights lead to transformational outcomes for clients and the industry. FMI helps you build your foundation for tomorrow and optimize your business for today. Industry Focus. Powerful Results. For more information, visit www.fminet.com. Lubricants for Every Project • Blowing/Jetting Lubricants • FTTX Cable Lubricant • Pourable Lubricants for Easier Application • Lubricants Designed for Specialty Cables www.polywater.com 800-328-9384 651-430-2270
THE ROAD TO PRE-HIRE INTELLIGENCE BEGINS WITH A SINGLE STEP You need more than screening and assessment. You need pre-hire intelligence, and you need it from a company with unmatched adaptability, experience, and customer service. Global HR Research gives you all of that in a set of pre-hire screening and assessment products - a comprehensive set of tools that helps you make better hiring decisions, faster. TALENT SCREENING | TALENT ASSESSMENTS | TALENT ACQUISITION HIRING IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU DO, TRUST IT TO GLOBAL HR RESEARCH. 800.790.1205 | WWW.GHRR.COM
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 21 POWER NEWS White House Announces $2.3 Billion to Strengthen and Modernize America’s Power Grid The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on July 6 opened the application period for states, Tribal nations, and territories to apply for the $2.3 billion formula grant program designed to strengthen and modernize America’s power grid against wildfires, extreme weather, and other natural disasters exacerbated by the climate crisis. The Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid program is established by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and administered through DOE’s new Building a Better Grid Initiative. The program will assist with projects that create good-paying jobs to deliver clean, affordable, and reliable energy to more Americans when needed. “Every community deserves a strong and reliable energy grid that can deploy cleaner, cheaper power to homes and businesses,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said. Power outages from severe weather have doubled over the past two decades across the U.S. and the frequency and length of time for power failures has reached their highest levels since reliability tracking began in 2013, with U.S. customers on average experiencing more than eight hours of outages in 2020. The new grant program will provide $459 million annually to states and Tribal nations over an anticipated five-year period to improve the resilience of the electric grid against disruptive events. Grid resilience activities could include: • Utility pole upkeep and removal of trees and other vegetation affecting grid performance • Undergrounding electrical equipment • Relocating or reconductoring powerlines • Improvements to make the grid resistant to extreme weather • Increasing fire resistant components • Implementing monitoring, controls, and advanced modeling for real-time situational awareness • Integrating distributed energy resources like microgrids and energy storage Applicants will be asked to describe the concrete outcomes they intend to seek and commit to specific progress metrics, such as reducing or shortening outages from severe events or by reducing risks to health and safety from such outages. The funding program will make awards to states, territories, or tribes representing diverse sets of populations, including underserved and disadvantaged communities. Under this program, priority will be given to projects that will generate the greatest community benefit, whether rural or urban, in reducing the likelihood and consequences of blackouts and power shutdowns because of extreme weather or other disruptive events like cyberattacks. FERC Acts to Boost Grid Reliability Against Extreme Weather Conditions On June 16, FERC initiated two rulemakings aimed at improving the reliability of the bulk power system against the threats of extreme weather. These are the first proposed rulemakings stemming from the Climate Change and Extreme Weather proceeding that the commission initiated in June 2021, and they respond to numerous extreme weather events that have resulted in load shed and in, some cases, nearly caused system collapse and uncontrolled blackouts. “Given the importance of reliable power to our way of life and the potential impacts extreme weather can have on grid reliability, FERC is taking these addiPower News continued on page 22
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 22 tional proactive steps,” FERC Chairman Rich Glick said. “Increasingly frequent cold snaps, heat waves, drought, and major storms continue to challenge the ability of our nation’s electric infrastructure to deliver reliable affordable energy to consumers. Today’s actions are necessary to ensure that we are prepared for the challenges ahead.” The commission proposes to require the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to develop reliability standard modifications to require that: • NERC develop benchmark planning cases based on information such as major prior extreme heat and cold weather events or future meteorological projections, • Transmission providers conduct studies of extreme heat and cold conditions including the expected resource mix’s availability during such extreme conditions, and • Transmission providers develop corrective action plans for any instances where performance requirements for extreme heat and cold events are not met. The proposed rule also seeks comment on whether to similarly require studies and corrective action plans for drought conditions. The second proposed rule would direct transmission providers to submit one-time reports describing their policies and processes for conducting extreme weather vulnerability assessments and identifying mitigation strategies. These extreme weather vulnerability assessments will improve the commission’s understanding of how transmission providers identify and mitigate risks to transmission assets and operations caused by extreme weather events. YOUR SOURCE FOR OPTICAL TROUBLESHOOTING Contact FS3, INC. at 320-274-7223 for additional kit details. The Flashpistol® PX-Q4XX series of tracer sources are designed to inject modulated tracer light into a fiber for use with all Photonix leak detection probes or fiber identifiers with 2kHz detection capability. The tracer sources are available as individual units or in kit formwhen paired with leak detection probes. The LightHawk™ light detection probe is state of the art in precision fiber optic fault location. It is designed to find an infrared glow from splices, connectors, bends, damage, or open ports. It can safely detect cable faults over long distances (>100km), in bright room light, and in many blue, green, and black coated fibers. Power News Continued from page 21 FERC Chair Richard Glick
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 23 The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that a variety of U.S. energy prices will remain historically high through 2023, including oil, natural gas, coal, and electricity, according to EIA’s June 2022 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). “We continue to see historically high energy prices as a result of the economic recovery and the repercussions of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine,” EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis said. “Although we expect the current upward pressure on energy prices to lessen, high energy prices will likely remain prevalent in the United States this year and next.” EIA forecasts that high natural gas and coal prices will result in an increased share of renewables in U.S. generation, largely offset by a decline in coal’s share. Wind and solar generation will likely contribute more than 11 percent of U.S. electricity this summer, after providing less than 10 percent in the summer of 2021. The natural gas share is forecast to decline over the next two years although at a slower rate than coal. Key takeaways from the STEO forecast include: • The Brent crude oil price will average $108 per barrel during the second half of 2022, as tight global inventories and significant geopolitical uncertainties continue to put upward pressure on crude oil prices despite an increase in production to pre-pandemic levels. • U.S. refinery utilization will average 94 percent in the third quarter of 2022, close to the highest levels of the past five years. A 5 percent decrease in refinery capacity between 2019 and 2022 will keep refining margins above the five-year average. • The Henry Hub natural gas price will average $8.69 per million British thermal units during the third quarter of 2022, up from May’s average of $8.13. This increase is due to strong demand for U.S. LNG exports and for natural gas in the electric power sector, which will keep U.S. natural gas inventories below their previous five-year average. • Electricity generation will increase by 2.1 percent in 2022, with the largest increases from renewable energy. With the forecast addition of 20 GW of solar capacity, solar power will account for nearly half of all the new U.S. generating capacity this year. The entire Short-Term Energy Outlook is available at www. eia.gov/outlooks/steo. EIA Expects Continued High Energy Prices through 2023 40 years and counting, Spiradrill gives you more... • More Versatility • More Capacity • More Value • More Support Sales Contact: Je Messer, VP of Sales je .email@example.com (512) 237-1572 (direct) Corporate O ce: 112 FM 153 Smithville, TX 78957 (512) 237-4140 www.spiradrill.net
• Read blueprints & construction drawings • Job site management • Material handling and storage • Pole climbing • Bucket truck (aerial lift) • Cable handling, installation, splicing • Pole excavation, placement, restoration • CDL and safe-driving practicies • DOT securement of equipment and load This online course will provide related core instruction that will prepare students for a career in aerial telecommunications utility construction. Students will receive related technical instruction in all of the competencies listed. Completion of the program places students on a pathway to employability, including opportunities with sponsors of registered apprenticeships. Paired with the Underground Utility Installer Technician (UUIT) students will possess the skills needed to give them a competitive edge in telecommunications industry. Underground Utility Installer Technician Start Date August 2022 180 Hours This online course will provide related core instruction that will prepare students for a career in underground telecommunications utility construction. Students will receive related technical instruction in all of the competencies listed. Completion of the program places students on a pathway to employability, including opportunities with sponsors of registered apprenticeships. Paired with the Overhead Utility Installer Technician (OUIT) students will possess the skills needed to give them a competitive edge in telecommunications industry. • Underground utility locate process • Read blueprints and construction drawings • Job site management • Material handling and storage • Cable handling, installation and splicing • Horizontal directional drilling • CDL and safe-driving practices • DOT securement of equipment and load BJ Williams Associate Dean, Workforce and Community Development firstname.lastname@example.org | 715.788.7046 Overhead Utility Installer Program Competency Cluster Hours Price OSHA 10 and Hazard Awareness 37 $171.97 Utility Locating & Jobsite Management 23 $110.68 CDL A & Load Securement Up to 40 $199 Overhead Construction Practices 70 $316.43 Complete Program 170 $798.08 Underground Utility Installer Program Competency Cluster Hours Price OSHA 10 and Hazard Awareness 37 $171.97 Utility Locating & Jobsite Management 23 $110.68 CDL A & Load Securement Up to 40 $199 Underground Construction Practices 80 $360.20 Complete Program 180 $847.85 NorthwoodTech.edu Overhead Utility Installer Technician Start Date August 2022 170 Hours Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) Scan with your camera for more information.
PCCA Journal|3rd Quarter 2022 25 BROADBAND NEWS FCC Rejects RDOF Applications from Starlink and LTD Broadband The following is from an FCC news release. On August 10, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it is rejecting the long-form applications of LTD Broadband and Starlink to receive support through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund program. The commission determined that these applications failed to demonstrate that the providers could deliver the promised service. Funding these vast proposed networks would not be the best use of limited Universal Service Fund dollars to bring broadband to unserved areas across the United States, the commission concluded. “After careful legal, technical, and policy review, we are rejecting these applications. Consumers deserve reliable and affordable high-speed broadband,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. “We must put scarce universal service dollars to their best possible use as we move into a digital future that demands ever more powerful and faster networks. We cannot afford to subsidize ventures that are not delivering the promised speeds or are not likely to meet program requirements.” “Starlink’s technology has real promise,” she said. “But the question before us was whether to publicly subsidize its still developing technology for consumer broadband--which requires that users purchase a $600 dish--with nearly $900 million in universal service funds until 2032.” In the initial auction results announced December 7, 2020, LTD Broadband won $1,320,920,718.60, and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (Starlink) won $885,509,638.40. Although LTD was a relatively small fixed wireless provider before the auction, it was the largest winning bidder in the auction, submitting winning bids in 15 states. Subsequently, it failed to timely receive eligible telecommunications carrier status in seven states, rendering it ineligible in those states for support. Ultimately, the FCC review concluded that LTD was not reasonably capable of deploying a network of the scope, scale, and size required by LTD’s extensive winning bids. Commissioner Brendan Carr released this statement following the announcement: “I am surprised to find out via a press release—while I am on a work trip to remote parts of Alaska—that the FCC has made this significant decision. I will have more to say because we should be making it easier for unserved communities to get service, not rejecting a proven satellite technology that is delivering robust, high-speed service today. To be clear, this is a decision that tells families in states across the country that they should just keep waiting on the wrong side of the digital divide even though we have the technology to improve their lives now.” USDA Announces $401 Million for High-Speed Internet Access in Rural Areas On July 28, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the investment of $401 million to provide access to high-speed internet for 31,000 rural residents and businesses in 11 states. This announcement includes a group of investments from the ReConnect Program and an award funded through USDA’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee program. USDA said it will make additional investments for rural high-speed internet later this summer, including ReConnect Program funding from the federal Infrastructure Law passed last November, which provides $65 billion to expand affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S. “Connectivity is critical to economic success in rural America,” Vilsack said. “The internet is vital to our growth and continues to act as a catalyst for our prosperity. From the farm to the school, from households to international markets, connectivity drives positive change in our communities.” Broadband News continued on page 26www.pccaweb.org