ESCI's Professional Team Members
ESCI's professional team has the in-depth knowledge to serve you;
each member has from 22 to 43 years of related experience.
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Brian Erga, President and General Manager
A 1978 graduate of the University of Washington School of Electrical Engineering, Brian has been involved in the electrical utility industry for more than 37 years. He is a distinguished Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), and active member of the IEEE Engineering in the Safety, Maintenance, and Operations of Lines Subcommittee (ESMO). Mr. Erga is currently chairman of the ESMO Induction Task Force and an active member of many IEEE, ESMO, Federal OSHA, ANSI, and ASTM committees, work groups and task forces. He is an active member of the NESC-C2 Subcommittee 8, responsible for NESC Part 4 "Work Rules."
Brian Erga is considered an expert in electric utility design, construction, maintenance and operation. He has been deeply involved in the hearings and proposed revisions to OSHA 1910.269 and OSHA 1926 Subpart V. He is also an industry expert in all types of personal protective grounding, has published numerous papers and articles, and is knowledgeable in all Federal OSHA regulations relating to the utility industry. Mr. Erga is a subject expert on the application of the Minimum Approach Distance, two-man rule, FR clothing and PPE requirements, and other rules and regulations related to the utility industry. He provides
expert witness services and is a sought-after speaker nationwide.
Hector Silva, Director of Operations
Hector is our Director of Operations and also provides service for the Arizona/Nevada/Iowa/Illinois Utilities Safety Group. In addition, Hector conducts safety audits for electric utilities throughout the country. Hector has more than 42 years in the electrical utility business. He spent 13 years as a lineman, five years as a Transmission/Distribution Safety & Training Specialist, and eight years as Supervisor of El Paso Electric's Safety Department. Hector has a great deal of experience in utility safety and is considered an authority in technical training relating to pole-top/bucket-truck rescue, rubber gloving, Leadership Safety Awareness, and since 1989 Department of Transportation (DOT) matters. Hector is a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), a Certified Utility Safety Administrator (CUSA), and an active member of several national organizations such as the National Safety Council, and Southwest Electrical Safety Exchange serving as past Chairman. He also is available to provide
expert witness services.
Clayton King, Director of Corporate Research & Testing
Clayton King received a BSEE from the University of Missouri in 1965 and completed graduate studies at Iowa State University and the University of Missouri. He has more than 40 years of experience in the field of testing products and systems.
As A.B. Chance Manager of Laboratories, he conducted a substantial number of high-current and high-voltage tests for products and methods development of electrical protective equipment. He has made presentations to the American National Safety Council, the Edison Electric Institute, NEMA, the IBEW, and many electrical utility companies. He is a member of many IEEE, ASTM, and IEC committees and working groups on personal protective grounding, high-voltage metering, and laboratory testing procedures. Mr. King is a registered professional engineer in the State of Missouri.
Clayton is the industry leader in personal protective grounding equipment components, and the application and testing of their acceptance.
Director of Standards and Work Rules
Mr. David Wallis holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology, and is nationally recognized as a preeminent expert in electrical safety standards and work rules. He recently retired after 40 plus years developing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) electrical safety standards. Mr. Wallis directed the OSHA Office of Engineering Safety for the last 10 years, authored 10 OSHA safety and health standards and contributed to dozens of others. David has examined the records of more than 6,000 electrical accidents and thousands of non-electrical accidents to determine their cause, allowing him to draft rules preventing the re-occurrence of those accidents.
Mr. Wallis is the primary author of most OSHA electrical standards, including OSHA 1910.269, OSHA 1926 Subpart V, OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K. He also contributed to the promulgation of several other OSHA safety standards, such as the permit-required confined space standard in OSHA 1910.146. David has represented OSHA as an expert witness in several cases before the OSHA Review Commission.
David actively participates in national consensus standards writing committees by offering his extensive knowledge in occupational safety and health standards. He is an active member of ASTM F18, IEEE, the Engineering in the Safety, Maintenance, and Operations of Lines Subcommittee (ESMOL), NFPA 70E, and NESC Subcommittee 8 responsible for Part 4 "Work Rules." He also is available to provide expert witness services.
Brian Pollom, ESCI AMR/AMI Smart Grid Consultant
Brian has 35 years in utility industry.
- 25+ Years at Puget Sound Energy in Bellevue in
- Engineering, Line, Substations, Quality, AMR/AMI.
- 9+ Years working with AMR/AMI Vendors.
- 5 Years – Trilliant Networks – Montreal/San Francisco.
- 4 Years – Landis+Gyr – Melbourne/Sydney.
- Advanced knowledge of Electric utility business inculding
- 6 years in substation engineering and operation including work with Tyee construction both at Grays Harbor and PSE; and
- 6 years in quality for PSE, with a focus on new material acceptance and all types of equipment failure.
- 18 years AMR/AMI Smart Grid – Demand Response.
- Program Lead and Service Provider.
Kristine K. Buchholz,
Director of Special Projects
Kris has more than 34 years of high level, electric utility management experience with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). She last held the position at PG&E as the Director of Transmission Line Maintenance and Construction, managing 18,000 miles of transmission lines, 300 employees and a $288 million dollar budget. Kris also was the Director of PG&E's Grid Control Center with interconnections to Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC). She held the position of Process Improvement Manager, Engineering and Planning Manager, Director of PG&E's Bay Area Customer Field Service Group, Capital Investment Director, Electric Engineering Supervisor, Bay Region Transmission Gas and Electric Operations Manager, Stanislaus Division Director Engineering and Telecommunications, Transmission and Substation Operations Engineer, and various Engineering positions.
Ms. Buchholz holds a Master's degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a Registered Professional Electrical Engineer in the State of California and a past member of the WECC Operations Committee. Kris is the past chairman of the IEEE Engineering in the Safety, Maintenance and Operations of Lines Committee (ESMOL), and still is deeply involved with the ESMOL Committee.
At ESCI Kris will be leading special projects for ESCI customers involving all areas of electric utility operations, maintenance and construction, including live-line work methods development, management assistance and engineering projects.
Thomas A. Verdecchio,
ESCI Live Line Special Projects Manager
Mr. Verdecchio has more than 43 years of electric utility safety and training experience, and live-line transmission experience. He was an integral team member for development and leadership of Public Service Electric and Gas Company's (PSE&G) New Jersey Live-Line Group for more than 15 years. Tom was the lead team member responsible for the development of PSE&G's live-line maintenance techniques which has significantly reduced PSE&E's transmission O & M costs. Mr. Verdecchio's experience includes:
- The ability to plan and safely work various types of live-line energized work from 138 kV to 500 kV
- Forty plus years in the electric utility business including distribution rubber glove and hot stick work methods, safety and training work methods development and application of OSHA 1910.269 and OSHA 1926 Subpart V
- Developing the installation of load cells on energized 230 kV circuits
- Developing energized work procedures for maintenance of PSE&G's 90-year-old 138 kV circuits
- Assisting PSE&G to become the first utility helicopter owner/operator for live-line work maintenance and repair
- Director of Flight Operations PSE&G development training for pilots and linemen for live helicopter work
- Development of the rotorcraft manual for the 14 CFR Part 133 external operations
- Development and patenting Personnel Protective Gaps for voltages 115 kV to 345 kV
Mr. Verdecchio has been a member of the IEEE/ESMOL Subcommittee for fifteen years. He has authored five papers on live-line work methods and is currently working to combine all the papers into a Live-line Working Guide for the industry. He is IEEE's representative to NESC Subcommittee 8, Part 4 "Work Rules," and is a member of the EPRI Live Line Advisory Board. Tom is a member of the U.S. National Committee of the IEC (International Electro-Technical Commission) and a committee member of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Mr. Verdecchio currently works with EEI, IBEW, OSHA and the FAA in the rule making for Helicopter Live-line Work external operations FAR part 133 Class A, B, C, and D.
He also is available to provide
expert witness services.
Gretchen Erga, Special Programs Administrator
Gretchen is the Director of Health and Wellness at ESCI and specializes in the health and wellness field. She develops and provides health and wellness programs, oversees all First Aid/CPR training, and ESCI's Hearing Test services. She is certified as an American Red Cross First Aid/CPR Instructor. A 1974 graduate of Western Washington University with a BS in speech therapy and audiology, she obtained her MS in education from WWU in 1991. Gretchen spent 24 years teaching at the intermediate level of public education, specializing in health and wellness the last five years.
George Gela, Ph.D., E.Eng. ESCI Director of Testing and Research
Mr. Gela is an internationally recognized electric utility expert with a doctoral degree in electrical engineering and extensive background in research, testing, and teaching. Mr. Gela has authored and co-authored 20+ technical peer-reviewed papers, 100+ major research reports, and 30+ technical conference papers, as well as delivered 80+ technical seminars and presentations worldwide. He has participated in 80+ technical panel discussions, and provides the electric power utility industry with specialized services, including:
- Design, performance analysis, testing, and live maintenance of HVAC and HVDC overhead lines, underground cables, and equipment
- Consulting and support in HVAC, HVDC, lightning and switching impulse, and high-current testing of equipment
- Development of procedures for safe live work and de-energized work (voltage and current induction issues); and seminars and training sessions for new and seasoned professionals
- Live Line Maintenance
- Control Room & Switchyard Switching Procedures
- Transmission Line Transients, Design, Modeling, Performance, Maintenance & Inspection
- Arc flash Issues
- Underground Distribution Cable Failure Analysis & Manhole Events/Explosions
- Substation Grounding
- Regulatory Compliance and Electric Industry Policy, Procedures & Standards (IEEE, ANSI, ASTM, NEMA, NESC, NEC, OSHA, IEC, CENELC, BSI, VDE)
- Deterioration Assessment
Mr. Gela is currently an adjunct professor at Western New England University in Springfield, MA, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in AC Power Systems, Power Electronics, and Renewable Energy.
Click here for his résumé.
Martin Church, ESCI Safety and Training Manager
Mr. Church has more than 20 years of electric utility safety and training experience covering operations, maintenance and construction of overhead and underground distribution and transmission lines and equipment. Martin has held the position of lineman, foreman and safety inspector at Xcel Energy and Valley Electric. Mr. Church spent the last 5 years as the Technical Instructor at Southwestern Public Service (SPS) an Xcel Energy company, with responsibility for:
- Developing apprenticeship course material
- Instructing climbing schools and apprenticeship classes
- Developing and providing journeyman re-training
- Crew visits and safety audits
- Budgeting and expense reporting
- Developing and building hands-on training aids such as a Nova Recloser and controls, transformer simulators, capacitors
- Providing training in regulators, transformers and capacitors
Between 2011 and 2012, Mr. Church held the position of "Blue Hat" (safety inspector) for Xcel Energy, with responsibility for:
- Crew visits with an emphasis on safe work practices
- Identifying, researching, and organizing training needs
Between 1997 and 2011 Martin held the position of Journeyman Lineman at Xcel Energy and Valley Electric. His responsibilities included:
- Responsible for system maintenance, new construction, and project scheduling of overhead and underground distribution lines
- After hours outage calls
- Trouble shooting primary and secondary voltage problems
- Served as Safety Advisory Group Chairman for Borger service center
- Responsible for Transmission line Maintenance and replacement
- Meter connects and disconnects
- Substation monitoring
- Emphasis on customer service
Mr. Church is qualified in:
- Hot Sticking and rubber gloving
- Live-line Bare Hand, Hot Stick and rubber glove Instructor
- ATD Master Trainer
- Cable Testing and Fault Locating
- Special Apparatus and Testing
- AC Transformers Advanced Theory and Practical Applications
- Revenue Metering
- Trench Safety
- Western Area Power Administration Switching Certification
- Safe Rigging Techniques, Load Control, and Gear Inspection
- ATD Master Trainer
Martin has more than 20 years in the electric utility industry as a lineman, foreman, safety professional, and technical instructor for some of the largest companies in the country.
Jim Craker, Safety and Training Manager
Jim has more than 30 years in the electric utility business including 12 years at a REA in South Dakota and 17 years at a Public Utility in Washington State. His positions include:
- Safety and Training Manager;
- Journeyman Lineman;
- Line Foreman;
- Assistant Operations Manager;
- Line Superintendent;
- Certified Rubber Glove, Hot Stick and Live-Line Maintenance Professional.
Mr. Craker is highly knowledgeable in the Federal OSHA 1910.269, OROSHA and WAC 45 for the State of Washington. He offers in-depth safety training services to qualified electrical workers throughout the North Western U.S. Jim holds Certifications in:
- First Aid/CPR/AED Instructor;
- Flagging Instructor;
- Forklift Instructor.
He is a member of the Employer's Electrical & Communication Safety Committee (EECSC) and the Electrical Utility Safety Advisory Committee (EUSAC).
Jim and his wife Connie currently reside in Shelton, Washington.
John O'Loughlin, Safety and Training Manager
John's experience comes from 36 years of electric utility experience, including 12 years as a senior safety consultant for PNM Resources. John has a total of 24 years as an journeyman lineman, crew foreman and district operations manager.
Edmundo Avila, ESCI Safety and Training Manager
Mr. Avila has more than 18 years of electric utility experience where he has been involved in the operations, maintenance and construction, of overhead and underground distribution and transmission lines and equipment. Edmundo (Ed) has held the position of lineman, foreman and safety professional at Arizona Public Services and El Paso Electric Company. Mr. Avila spent the last 2.5 years supporting the T&D construction safety department, and is qualified in:
- Rubber glove and hot stick work methods
- Providing safety training programs and presentations
- Conducting incident investigations and developing root-cause analysis
- Supporting upper management, corporate safety committees and all company employees in safety related training and associated work methods
- Developing and providing journeyman re-training
- Crew visits and safety audits
Mr. Avila is fluent (bilingual) in both Spanish and English. Ed is registered and active member in the Southwest Electric Safety Exchange (SWESE), participating in annual conferences.
Robert Bennett, ESCI Safety and Training Manager, Wyoming Group
Mr. Bennett has 39 years in the electric utility business as a journeyman lineman, foreman and senior safety administrator. Robert (Bob) is highly skilled in operations, maintenance and construction of overhead and underground transmission, distribution and substations. Mr. Bennett has extensive knowledge in Federal OSHA's safety regulations and work rules. Bob is also skilled in the environmental concerns covering the generation, transmission and distribution of electric energy. He has excellent communication skills and can speak to all groups of people.
As a senior safety administrator for one of the largest West coast utilities, Mr. Bennett was responsible for the company's local safety committees and emergency response teams. He provided consulting and training to employees and management on the application of laws, regulations and policies for safe work practices. Bob conducted safety and health risk assessments, job task analyses, ergonomics and body mechanic assessments for the company's craft and office workers.
Mr. Bennett is knowledgeable in analyzing hazards and potential risks to people, facilities and equipment in accordance with industry best practices. He has investigated many industrial incidents and developed detailed reports and recommendations to senior management on the incidents.
Mr. Bennett holds:
- Advanced Safety Certificate
- Scaffold Training, Train the Trainer Certificate
- Smith Systems Driving Trainer Certificate
- Recurrent Utility Flight Operations Certificate
- Safe Start, Train the Trainer Certificate
Mike Runzo, ESCI Safety and Training Manager
Mr. Mike Runzo joins ESCI as a Safety and Training Manager responsible for ESCI's customers in Arizona. Mike has more than 44 years in civil and electric construction. He recently retired from Salt River Project (SRP) after 34 years holding the positions of apprentice lineman, lineman, senior engineering technician, construction specialist, section supervisor transmission line construction, safety specialist and substation construction supervisor. Mr. Runzo holds certifications in:
- Electrical lineman apprenticeship program in accordance with the standards of the Department of Economic Security and the apprenticeship advisory council
- Construction & Maintenance Man apprenticeship program in accordance with the standards of the Department of Economic Security and the apprenticeship advisory council
- Certified Utility Safety Professional
- Arizona State University's Del E. Webb School of Construction Management certificate program
- University of California, San Diego Extension Occupational Safety and Health Professional Certificate 350 hours of study
- Authorized OSHA 10 and 30 Construction and General Industry instructor
- Management & Supervision 1 at Mesa Community College
- Rocky Mountain Electrical League: Substation Design 101
Mike spent the 8 years at SRP as a Safety Specialist and Section Supervisor, responsible for all parts of the safety management team. He was a section supervisor responsible for estimating, budgeting and scheduling performance of all phases of T & D line and substation. Mike joins ESCI to support our Arizona customers and all other customers.
Mr. Bruce Hughes has more than 30 years in the electric utility business. He recently retired from Overton Power District #5 after 28 years holding the positions of apprentice, lineman, line foreman and manager of transmission and distribution operations.
Mr. Hughes holds certifications in:
- Electrical lineman apprenticeship program from the Merchant Lineman School
- Safety Leadership Certificate from the NRECA
- Certified Supervisor of Overton's Drug and Alcohol Program
- IPSA Hot Line School Instructor in enclosed space entry
- Eagle Scout
Bruce spent more than six years as Overton Power's Manager of T&D Operations, where he was also the Director of the Safety Committee. During his time as the Manager and under his leadership, Overton Power went over 890,000 employee hours without a lost time accident. Bruce also was a Line Foreman and Safety Manager for Overton Power for 10 years.
Mr. Hughes also held the position as the Company's Avian Protection Manger, reporting to the Nevada Department of Fish and Wildlife.