Kalon Lafferty, left, a journeyman with Farmer’s Electric, along with apprentices Clay Moraga, center, and Adrian Chavez, both from the Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative, practice stringing new wires.

Climbing High

The Electrical Lineworker Power Training Facility at Rio Rancho Campus Opens Friday
March 21, 2018

After graduating from Jemez Valley High School, Adrian Chavez knew a four-year college wasn’t for him. So instead of a classroom, Chavez, who’s now 23, found work with the Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative and he’s currently in the fourth year of his apprenticeship as a lineworker.

Much of his training has happened on the job, but on Wednesday Chavez came together with dozens of other lineworker apprentices from rural electrical co-ops around the state to sharpen his skills during a week-long training program at the new Electrical Lineworker Power Training Facility on CNM’s Rio Rancho Campus. That facility has its official ribbon cutting this Friday.

All morning, Chavez and the other lineworker apprentices were up in the air, spiked and strapped to the training facility’s electrical poles as they practiced things like stringing new wires. They were under the watchful eye of supervisors from the various participating co-ops, and also had time to share tips and tricks with each other that they’ve learned on the job.

“I firmly believe the trades need a boost in this country and this program is a boost for lineworkers like myself,” Chavez said after coming down for a break. “No one told me I could have a fulfilling career and make good money without a degree when I graduated high school, so I hope we can spread the word and continue this kind of training.”

Julio Zuniga, left, an apprentice with Columbus Electric Cooperative, and Francisco Caro, an apprentice with the Mora-San Miguel Electric Cooperative, practice their climbing skills at the Electrical Lineworker Power Training Facility on CNM’s Rio Rancho Campus

The Electrical Lineworker Power Training Facility used to be in Las Cruces, but thanks to a partnership between CNM, CNM Ingenuity, and New Mexico Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (NMRECA) it was moved to the Rio Rancho Campus.

Right now, lineworkers from the rural co-ops are the only people who’ll be using the training center, even though it’s on CNM’s property. But CNM is currently designing a lineworker pre-apprenticeship program scheduled to launch later this summer that offers classroom and lab work. Once completed, that CNM program will help prepare students to enter lineworker apprenticeships like the ones held by Chavez and his co-workers.  

To find out more about the Electrical Lineworker Power Training Facility, the ribbon cutting this Friday, or the upcoming CNM linemen classes, please email [email protected]