Jared Perez is a civil engineer who has worked for the Bonneville Power Administration for more than 20 years. He began his career as a summer intern, became a full time structural engineer and now is a construction manager. He also serves on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Support Function - Energy team. He’s travelled outside the region and supported FEMA’s responses to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Hurricane Isaac in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Typhoon Soudelor in Saipan.
With 15,000 miles of transmission line to maintain, Jared’s work can take him just about anywhere in the BPA’s service area. He says living and working in the Pacific Northwest allows him to be outdoors and experience all the region has to offer from the high desert and mountain ranges to the Pacific Ocean.
How would you explain your job to your neighbor, so they not only understand what you do but what BPA does and its role in our region?
I’m sure many can relate when this question comes up with friends and family, and my first response is typically, “No, I don’t work at the dam.” I then go on to explain how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation operate the dams that generate the power, then BPA transmits that power over our high-voltage transmission system. The power is sold at a cost-based rate to your local utility, who then sells it to you. In a nutshell “we keep your lights on!” When they ask specifically what I do for BPA, I ask if they ever notice those large lattice-type towers holding up wire while driving and go on to explain that my job is to oversee the contract construction of those lines and substations whenever they need replacing. I work directly with the contractors to make sure they are adhering to the contract by following the design drawings and technical specifications for the job.
How does your work support BPA’s mission and strategy?
As a construction manager I’m charged with overseeing the construction of the overall project. The majority of projects I work on are transmission lines and substations. The work and time that goes into planning and designing transmission lines and substations can go on for years. However, when it reaches the construction phase it moves rather quickly. As a construction manager you get to see years of work by many people take shape within months. You get to manage rebuilding or upgrading a once aging transmission line or substation through completion, with new material and equipment incorporating the latest technology. The work to upgrade the transmission system ensures electrical reliability and stability for years to come.
My most memorable work-related story or safety lesson is:
I think it would have to be the rebuild of a historic transmission line that runs along the Columbia River Gorge. Not only is this the very first transmission line built in our system, but the job itself posed many technical challenges. The line traverses steep cliffs with rocky terrain that had the potential to come loose during construction; not to mention I-84 runs parallel below the line’s right-of-way. For this job we were given approval to use a human external cargo system – a way of transporting the workers via a longline from the belly of a helicopter – eliminating the need for lineworkers to hike to the various hard-to-reach structures. The project was scheduled to take place over three construction seasons, but we were able to finish, without any injuries, in two seasons.
Safety is a core value at BPA. How do you incorporate safe behavior into your practices and environment?
As a construction manager, it is my highest priority that the work I manage be done safely. This entails continuous discussions, moments, huddles and meetings all centered around safety. I consider a job successful if it was completed without injury. It’s a high standard and it’s not always met, but it’s a goal our team strives for. Within my work group I can say with confidence that we have made safety not only a core value, but part of our culture. I also bring what I learn at work into my home environment.
How do you demonstrate respect and dignity?
I strive to assume positive intent. Sadly, it’s easy to jump to conclusions about the choices people make in life. One approach I often take, especially when I meet someone for the first time, is to get to know them and their story. It gives me perspective and context and helps me to relate to others.
I am inspired by: