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Harringa Hangs Up Hard Hat after 17 Years

NIPCO Transmission Superintendent Steve Harringa will hang up his hard hat after a 28-year career as a line worker, the last 17 of them with NIPCO. Harringa's first day with NIPCO was January 3rd, 2006. Hired as a Crew Foreman for the Le Mars area crew, he reported to then-Transmission Superintendent Tim Harrison. There have been many changes throughout the years, from crew restructuring to the scope of the work being done, contributing to the improved efficiencies and reliability NIPCO provides for its members.


Steve Harringa and Jason Stock placing the auger to begin setting poles for a new tap line into the Hartley Substation. (2008)

Harringa was named to the position of Transmission Superintendent upon Harrison's retirement in September of 2012.


Harringa credits the advancement of technology over the years as the most significant change in how his job is performed. "System outages are fewer, and outage times have decreased." Maintaining system operations and reliability has improved thanks to a smarter grid, more robust and resilient materials, better communication between system infrastructure and control operators, and a redundant system that allows power to be re-routed around downed infrastructure (not energized).


Harringa (right) discusses work being done at Eagle Substation with Bruce Shostak (ret. 2018) in 2015.

"NIPCO Control Operators can identify an outage in real-time and pinpoint its source within the system. With more motor operators in our system, NIPCO's Control Center operators often isolate the problem, re-route power around the trouble spot, and restore power to the members without calling out crews. Being able to conduct these actions remotely through telecommunications data saves time sending men out for eyes on the ground. Thanks to GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping on computers assigned to line workers, specific infrastructure data can be pulled up in seconds, and crews can respond as needed. These processes have greatly improved response and restoration procedures."


Harringa also notes that improved technology reduces the amount of paperwork required to document maintenance issues, giving crews more time to focus on other work and perform their jobs safely.


Harringa (left) consults with crews and engineers following a late spring snow and ice storm near Orange City, Iowa, in 2019.

Harringa is proud to have dedicated his line worker career to two quality cooperatives: North West Rural Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Orange City, and NIPCO. "It's been a rewarding career, especially the part of helping people when they are out of power. I've had the opportunity to meet and work with many great people during my time at North West REC and NIPCO."

He and his wife, Eileen, have three adult children: two sons and a daughter. Steve's sons followed in Dad's footsteps, with one son working as a lineman near Atlantic, Iowa, for MidAmerican Energy Company, and the other for Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) and is stationed in Hinton. Their daughter is in the healthcare industry in Des Moines. Steve and his wife, an employee of the Le Mars Community School District, have eight grandkids and hope to be able to spend more time with them.


When asked what he will do on his first day of retirement, Steve smiles as he recounts how his wife made him breakfast every day before sending him off to work. "I think I will cook Eileen breakfast on my first morning of retirement."
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