Jun 29, 2016

2016 SEA Tripartite Conference stresses safety, recruitment

Owners describe industry developments; work groups report

THE SOUTHEAST AREA Tripartite conference held in Destin, Florida, earlier this year stressed the importance of safety and recruitment while providing updates on the utility industry and committee work.

IVP-SE Warren Fairley praised Southeast locals for their commitment to safety, noting their successes, including winning the 2015 national safety award sponsored by the National Association of Construction Boilermaker Employers (NACBE). Since 1991, the Southeast Area has won the award 19 times, Fairley noted.

“There’s only been six years that the Southeast has not won,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier about that.”

Representatives from two of the largest utilities in the Southeast addressed the conference on developments at their respective companies. Kim Greene, Executive Vice President and COO with Southern Company, discussed her firm’s reliance on Boilermakers for various outage and new construction work on fossil and nuclear power plants. Greene thanked the union for providing “transparency” in assessing the ability to man various projects. She also spoke about Southern Company’s “diverse set of fuel resources that balances clean, safe, reliable and affordable,” noting, “when EPA and others are just focused on clean, the affordability and sometimes the reliability aspects may get out of whack.”

Chip Pardee, Executive Vice President and COO with Tennessee Valley Authority, spoke about the energy mix at TVA and the challenges faced by the organization from market forces, regulations and changing technology. He said that although the market served by TVA is expanding, the demand for electricity is not rising significantly due to energy efficiency programs. Pardee said that environmental regulations “are kicking in that are programmed already” and that it is doubtful “a change in administration can take this into full reverse.”

Conference participants also heard reports from three committees created in 2015 to focus on specific issues vital to the tripartite partners: shortages and recruitment, stacked outages and hoarding of welders, and absenteeism and dragging up (leaving a job before it is finished). Presenters spoke about progress and challenges in identifying possible solutions.

The conference also used a real-time polling application that allowed participants to use their mobile phones to express their opinions across a range of issues impacting the Boilermaker construction industry.

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