For Chris Vrtiska, forestry work key for reliability

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Chris Vrtiska with his hunting dog, Yasha, during a trip to Idaho.
Chris Vrtiska with his hunting dog, Yasha, during a trip to Idaho.

There is no typical day at work for Chris Vrtiska, supervisor, T&D Maintenance Management. Vrtiska, who supervises vegetation management around distribution and transmission equipment and oversees underground locating services, said his work can range from collaborating with an engineer on a project to finding a solution for a single customer.

“Any number of things could be going on at any time,” he said.

Vrtiska, who has been with OPPD for more than 14 years, said the volume of customer contact he has on a daily basis may surprise people.

But the service provided by forestry is important for the utility, Vrtiska said. He would like the public to know that pruning trees near power lines is a necessity and that one tree may affect hundreds, maybe thousands, of other customers.

Vegetation management is a necessary part of OPPD’s business because it provides safety for customers and reduces the frequency and length of outages, Vrtiska said. His work with underground utility location protects both OPPD’s facilities and public safety.

“It’s a difficult job balancing safety and reliability, customer expectations and doing so in the most cost-efficient manner possible.”

Vrtiska was interested in a career in forestry since he was a child. At one point he was an arborist trimming trees, including line clearance. That experience led him to utility arboriculture.

OPPD at Work_Vrtiska, shooting medalOutside of work, Vrtiska is an avid hunter. He also enjoys shotgun sports such as sporting clays. He competed in the Cornhusker State Games in the event, winning a bronze medal in 2013 and a gold medal at the National State Games this summer in Lincoln.

Laura King-Homan

About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is editor of The Wire and a communications specialist at the Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, most of that time spent at the Omaha World-Herald.

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