Electrical Safety Consultants Inc

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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. Scroll down the page.

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, Safety and Training Manager

Hector is our Safety and Training Manager for the Oregon/Arizona/Nevada Utilities Safety Group. Hector has more than 33 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'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 Department of Transportation (DOT) matters since 1989. 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, Western Energy Institute, and Edison Electric Institute Safety & Health (EEI). He also is available to provide expert witness services.

ESCI provides its employees opportunities to excel in their duties as leaders and teachers through continued education and membership in national safety and health committees.

ESCI is continuing the expansion of our Safety and Training Coordinator personnel by recruiting nationally recognized Journeyman Instructors.


Professionals interested in joining ESCI should send a resume and cover letter to:

ESCI
P.O. Box 2822
Bellingham, WA
98227-2822.

Bonnie Parten, ESCI Office Manager, is the company's go-to person for accounting, payroll, billing, company benefits specialists and official company cheerleader. Thanks to Bonnie's hard work and the hard work of all ESCI professionals, ESCI continues to grow. Contact


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.

David Wallis, Director of Standards and Work Rules

Mr. David Wallis holds a B.S. 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 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 is a member of the IEEE Industry Applications Society, in addition to PES. 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.

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
  • Collections
  • 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.

Jerry Lemm, Safety and Training Manager

Mr. Lemm has been in the electric utility business for more than 26 years. He received his business management degree from Northern University. Mr. Lemm then joined Montana Power Company where he held several positions in the Operations Group. He then pursued a career as a safety and training professional and worked with utilities in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington. His safety and training experiences include work with natural gas and propane companies, electric generation, and transmission and distribution systems. Mr. Lemm is well versed in the OSHA 1910 and 1926 regulations, and is an OSHA General Industry Outreach Trainer. He spends much of his time involved in Federal regulatory compliance and Department of Transportation (DOT) rules. Mr. Lemm also is an expert in workplace wellness, office safety and general safety requirements. Mr. Lemm's extensive martial arts background and experience in law enforcement issues has given him an edge on work-place violence and personal safety issues. He is also qualified to conduct facility security audits for employers. Mr. Lemm has an upbeat and quick-paced instructional technique, and can make even the most boring subjects interesting and pertinent.

Jerry holds the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Loss Control Professional Certification and numerous other instructional certifications as a trainer in the field of health, wellness and general safety. He is CAOHC certified, an NSC Instructor Trainer and a certified First Aid/ CPR and AED instructor. He also holds a certification as a Critical Stress Debriefing Counselor and Personal Trainer.

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.

Joe Brett Jackson, ESCI Safety and Training Manager

Mr. Jackson has more than 18 years of electric utility safety and training experience covering operations, maintenance and construction of overhead and underground distribution and transmission lines and equipment. Joe is a veteran serving the United States Army 82nd Airborne 11H in the 3rd Brigade. Mr. Jackson is both a journeyman substation electrician and a journeyman lineman; a super combination. Joe has held the position of electrician, lead electrician, lineman, foreman, troublemen and safety trainer. He was responsible for providing safety training and consulting services to 9 Xcel Energy substation, distribution, transmission and meter service centers. Mr. Jackson holds certifications in:

  • OSHA 510 Certification
  • Authorized OSHA 511 10/30 Hour Instructor
  • HPI Instructor
  • Certified CPR Trainer American Red Cross
  • CUSP (Certified Utility Safety Professional)

Mr. Jackson is qualified in:

  • Hot Sticking and rubber gloving
  • Live-line Bare Hand, Hot Stick and Rubber Glove Instructor
  • Cable Testing and Fault Locating
  • Special Apparatus and Testing
  • AC Transformers Advanced Theory and Practical Applications
  • Revenue Metering
  • Trench Safety
  • Safe Rigging Techniques, Load Control, and Gear Inspection
  • ATD Master Trainer

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

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.

From 2006 to 2014 Mr. Gela held the position as Technical Executive and Senior Project Manager at ELECTRIC POWER RESEARCH INSTITUTE (EPRI), in Lenox, MA. At EPRI he managed a wide range of projects involving the R&D into generating, delivering and using electricity for public benefit. Mr. Gela collaborated with other scientists and engineers, as well as experts from academia and industry, to address challenges in electricity, such as reliability, efficiency, affordability, health, safety, and the environment. He provided training and consulting to EPRI member utilities (representing more than 90% of the electricity generated and delivered in the US), and international participants from 20 plus countries. He also prepared EPRI research reports and developed EPRI reference books.

Mr. Gela assisted First Energy in minimizing the cost of replacing bundle spacers on a 500 kV line by establishing a live-line procedure using helicopter-based work methods, which reduced the work duration from 6 months to 22 days and lowered cost to the utility by 10%. He enhanced worker safety, improved system reliability/availability, reduced line maintenance costs, and prevented revenue loss for Public Service Electric & Gas, Western Area Power Administration, and other utilities by developing and proof-testing devices such as the Portable Protective Air Gap (US Patent 6,957,111 B20 with PSE&G), which allowed lines up to 500 kV to remain fully operational during live-line work while protecting workers from excessive transient over voltages.

Education and Licensure

  • Industrial Research Fellowship and Industrial Postdoctoral Fellowship, Trench Electric Company (The Trench Group), Toronto, Canada
  • Ph.D., M.A.Sc., and B.A.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  • Registered Professional Engineer, Ontario, Canada
  • Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) License Number 15767015

Industry Involvement

  • International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Technical Committee 78 "Live Working," International Chairman
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Member, Senior Member, Chair of Working Groups, Local Chapters of the PES, and various other posts (named Outstanding Engineer for 2000 by the IEEE/PES Berkshire Chapter and IEEE Region 1; received the IEEE/PES Working Group Recognition Award for Best Technical Report)
  • International Conference on Large High-Voltage Electric Systems (CIGRÉ), Individual Member

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