February 2022 Vol. 77 No. 2


PCCA Focuses on Building Infrastructure Best

By Michael Ancell, PCCA

Another very busy year in power and broadband construction, 2021 found Power & Communication Contractor Association (PCCA) members working diligently to keep Americans reliably connected, while also working in Washington, D.C., and around the country to ensure that this critical infrastructure is built in the safest, most resilient and cost-effective ways possible. PCCA pursued these goals by spearheading a comprehensive national damage prevention study, battling for fair and effective federal infrastructure spending legislation, continuing its robust workforce development efforts, expanding its communications network, and meeting face-to-face to hear new ideas, discuss issues and map strategy. 

2021–22 PCCA Chairman Bob Breeden, ElectriCom Inc. 

PCCA members have long practiced and refined their safe-digging practices and programs to best protect the public and their employees and sharing this information with fellow contractors around the country is the foundation that PCCA was built upon. In recent years, members have been sharing their experiences and knowledge with wider audiences. They present position papers, work on committees and the executive board of the Common Ground Alliance, meet regularly with other excavator groups, and last March held the first Annual PCCA/CGA/NULCA (National Utility Locating Contractors Association) Excavation Safety Summit, where stakeholders in the process discussed their experiences and sought solutions. 

Talking and sharing are important, but so is doing, so PCCA and four other groups — the American Pipeline Contractors Association, Distribution Contractors Association, National Utility Contractors Association, and NULCA – the leading organization of underground utilities locating professionals – created the Infrastructure Protection Coalition and commissioned an independent study to exhaustively examine 811 operations in every state, see what is working and what is not, estimate costs and waste, and provide recommendations for improvement. 

“Damage prevention takes full participation from all key stakeholders, not just excavators,” said PCCA Chairman Bob Breeden of ElectriCom Inc., Paoli, Ind. “Passage of the infrastructure bill highlights the importance of all stakeholders meeting their responsibilities in the process. Improvements in the process of locating and marking underground facilities are needed now more than ever.” 

811 study results 

The new study, “811 Emergency,” found that “failures in the nation’s 811 system used to prevent damage to underground utility lines are costing $61 billion a year in waste and excess costs and creating unnecessary hazards for public safety, particularly in states where the implementation and accountability are most lax.” 

The study provides a national report, as well as separate reports for every state, Washington, D.C. and Chicago that highlight specific areas for improvement. These reports will guide regulators, legislators and stakeholders as they seek to improve their 811 systems. See all the reports at www.ipcweb.org. 

Obviously, big news in PCCA members’ primary markets, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act approved last year, provides critical funding for broadband deployment, power delivery and grid hardening. PCCA supported the measure and lobbied hard for responsible spending and for removing obstacles to getting the work done efficiently and effectively. The association continues to advocate for higher speed thresholds required to win federal broadband deployment dollars, arguing that speeds of 100/100 Mbps would provide broadband systems that are as future proof as possible and that building fiber networks today will save Congress and the American taxpayer the cost of regular upgrades as the demand for broadband continues to rise. 

Chairman-Elect Jerrod Henschel, Equix Inc. 

The lofty goals of the infrastructure agreement can be met only if there is an adequate pool of experienced, qualified workers. Right now, there is not. That is why there are PCCA-led industry efforts to defeat the so-called “Build Back Better” legislation. The bill, as well as continuing efforts to inject Big Union priorities like project labor agreements and new liability for employers found to have committed unfair labor practices, have little to do with building and would only set America back by picking favorites when it comes to the workforce needed to meet this unprecedented construction challenge. 

PCCA also continues to work hard to keep the workers its members do have on the job during COVID-19. In 2020, the association fought to have those who work on broadband and power systems included on any list of “essential” workers maintained by any federal/state entity. Last year, PCCA fought to keep workers on the job by opposing proposed vaccine mandates from the Biden administration, which would lead to unnecessary job cuts and/or resignations at a time when construction workers are needed most. PCCA remains vigilant. 

Training efforts 

The hard-working employees of PCCA members are well-trained, highly compensated and have rewarding careers with tremendous opportunities for advancement. We just need more of them. To this end, PCCA and its members help community colleges and technical schools develop and maintain utility construction programs. PCCA members donate time, knowledge, tools & equipment, and a whole lot of money to these schools, and the schools are already supplying qualified, ready-to-work employees. Schools in the program are State Technical College of Missouri, Terra State Community College (Ohio), Northwood Technical College (Wisc.), Monroe County Community College (Mich.), and Somerset Community College (Ky.). 

These schools also work with PCCA and the Wireless Infrastructure Association to provide in-person and online training as part of the Telecommunication Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP). The partnership is supported by a U.S. Department of Labor grant designed to support large-scale expansions of apprenticeship. Several PCCA members have employees in the program, and hundreds more have been committed. A session at the upcoming PCCA convention will show contractors how to create and maintain effective apprenticeship programs in their companies. 

PCCA Past Chairman Greg Johnson and his son Tate Johnson accepting Hall of Fame Induction for Greg’s father, Ernie.

PCCA supports students at these and other schools with its scholarship program. Last year, the PCCA Education & Research Foundation awarded its 2021–2022 scholarships to Moses Chapman, Lakewood, Wash.; Laith Emad Jhoda Almhimedawy, Aurora, Ill.; Mason Tribble, Carrollton, Ga.; Zachary Wells, Avon, Ohio; and Bruce Halfmann, Covina, Calif. Four of the scholarships provide $2,500 per year for children and other dependents of PCCA members and their employees. The students selected can receive up to $10,000 (for those attending a four-year school) or $5,000 (for those attending a two-year program). PCCA also offers annual $1,000 scholarships at each of the schools in its workforce development program. 

In early March, PCCA held its 76th Annual Convention at the Naples Grande Beach Resort in Naples, Fla. With some 340 attendees, the convention featured the aforementioned Excavation Safety Summit, the always-informative PCCA Industry Roundtable, fascinating speakers, the Annual Associates Exhibit, PCCA Prayer Breakfast, and an array of tours, parties, golf and other networking events. During the convention, PCCA announced its 2021–22 scholarship recipients, honored outgoing chairman, John Fluharty of Mears Group, and welcomed its new chairman, Bob Breeden of ElectriCom. 

Hall of Fame inductee Ken Trawick. 

In July, PCCA held its Mid-Year Meeting in New England for the first time in more than 20 years. As they did in 2000, members turned out in record numbers at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine, for an informative, productive, and tremendously fun event. At the 2021 Mid-Year, PCCA members honored new Hall of Fame inductees Ernie Johnson, Okay Construction, and Ken Trawick, Trawick Construction/Quanta Services, and enjoyed intriguing educational sessions, a tropical storm-defying golf tournament, and some great tours around picturesque coastal Maine. 

PCCA’s 2022 Convention is March 4-9 at the Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the Mid-Year Meeting is Sept. 14-17 at the Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa, Calif. Learn more at www.pccaweb.org or by following PCCA on LinkedIn, Facebook (@powerandcommunicationscontractors 
association), Twitter (@PCCA_tweets), and Instagram (@powerandcommunication). 

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