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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


Shifting priorities, shifting roles

April 26, 2023 | Jason Kuiper | OPPD at work, OPPD employees, T&D
electric service designer
Cody Woodworth, center, an electrical service designer for OPPD, scouts an upcoming project for Greater Beth-el Temple in Omaha. Woodworth was meeting with David Steg, right, owner of Tree Services of Omaha, and Kevin Gray, a deacon at Greater Beth-el Temple. Photo by Danielle Beebe-Iske

For Cody Woodworth, life on the lines was good.

He’d always wanted to be an electrician, but meeting some linemen altered his course. A few years after graduating from Northeast Community College’s line program, Woodworth became an OPPD line technician.

For 18 years, he worked every kind of storm, and was called out to work on every holiday at one time or another, all while his young family grew.

“It was good work, a great job,” said Woodworth.

Over the last five years, Woodworth rose in tenure. He started filling in as acting supervisor or job foreman as needed. He enjoyed the role, but also started wondering about his future.

“There were some pretty big requirements (in the supervisor role), such as having to be at work an hour before and an hour after the other line techs,” he said. “I was missing more family time than I wanted to, and it was hard to make it to family events. So I started thinking of ways to improve that work-life balance.”

A new role: electrical service designer

Woodworth said he knew that as his three sons grew, he wanted to be more involved in their activities and family life. He found his future in position he was exposed to over and over in his fill-in supervisor role – the electrical service designer, also known as an ESD.

He did some job shadowing after talking to ESDs about what they did and what their days consisted of. It was a job that combined his love of working with electricity with the opportunity to still get out in the field.

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Cody Woodworth, right, says his new position fits his family life better. Photo by Danielle Beebe-Iske

He moved over to the new role a year ago and still works out of the Papillion Service Center.

“The work fits my family life more,” Woodworth said. “It was hard being on call every single day. Making your kids’ sporting events is tough when you are called in to work often.”

Woodworth works on service for new business and residential construction as well as for existing customers. ESDs determine how electrical service will work within each project. He listens to customers and helps determine whether what they want to do is feasible and will work with OPPD’s system.

OPPD has electrical service designers working metropolitan Omaha and in rural areas. Each ESD works on a specific area of the OPPD service territory. For Woodworth, that includes North Omaha and Carter Lake.

Woodworth deals with engineers, construction companies, inspectors, OPPD supervisors, schedulers and line crews, among others. He said the ESDs he works with at the Papillion Center come from a variety of backgrounds.

“I’m from the field side, and we have a few ESDs from customer service, a few from the metering department, and some underground splicers,” he said. “So if you don’t have the answer, someone else will. There is a lot of knowledge sharing within our group, which is great.”

The work before the work

One of the biggest surprises about his new job, he said, was just how much work goes on behind the scenes and in the planning stages before the crews can do their work.

“I never really thought about how the work came in, and a lot of it comes in through the ESDs,” he said.

Typically, a customer will call an electrical service designer  and talk about their electrical needs for the home or building and what such work would cost. An ESD will meet with the customer at the site and then come up with a design or proposal.  If the customer is happy with the proposal, the ESD turn it into a work order and, once approved, the work order goes to an OPPD scheduler and finally to the crews to do the work.

He is still learning new things about the job each day.

His current projects include a new car wash, which is getting close to the construction phase, several residential home expansions, and an out-of-state company looking to put in electric vehicle charging stations.

His area is seeing plenty of growth, especially in the North 24th Street area. But really, there are new projects springing up all over the metro area, he said.

He traded his utility belt in for a laptop, but he’s still dedicated to serving customers, he said – just from a different vantage point.


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About Jason Kuiper

Jason Kuiper joined OPPD as a communications specialist in 2015. He is a former staff writer and reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, where he covered a wide range of topics but spent the majority of his career covering crime. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and has also appeared in several true crime documentary shows. In his free time he enjoys cooking, spending time with his wife and three children, and reading crime novels.

View all posts by Jason Kuiper >

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