Behind the Scenes with Dave Passmore
After 16 years in the construction industry, I was looking for a new career. At the time I knew several employees at PSI Energy, our predecessor company, and I toured one of the company's power plants. I was fascinated with what I saw, especially in the control room. There was science behind every button and switch. I was hooked.
It took two years of following company job postings before a position opened up that fit my skills. I didn't apply anywhere else for a job. In 1994 I became a general mechanic at the company's Wabash River Station in West Terre Haute. I saw an opportunity for unlimited learning and personal growth, challenging responsibilities, and career advancement. All of this while working with some of the best people in any business.
I remember going to my first company picnic with my family years ago at the Old Indiana theme park. There was a tent that was filled with company merchandise. I bought way too much, but I couldn't wait to get myself and my kids into clothes with the company logo on them.
Throughout the years I've worked with company employees who take their jobs seriously and are willing to help others succeed. As a new hire I can remember asking Arnold Selvia, production team equipment operator at the time at Wabash River Station, one operational question after another. He always took the time to give me an explanation. Arnold once told me that sharing what he knew from his experience would benefit not only me, but also the plant and other employees.
Today, after 17 years with Duke Energy, I'm the plant operations coordinator at Cayuga Station in Vermillion County, Ind. The facility has seen a lot of changes over the years. For instance, we have nearly as much square footage dedicated to pollution control today as we do electricity generation. We've invested hundreds of millions at this plant alone to improve air quality. And the science behind that effort keeps getting better.
The hard work and dedication I have seen through the years is most noticeable when conditions challenge us. If we have a tube leak, for instance, that takes a unit offline, a 24/7 process begins. First the boiler must be cooled down from 1,000° and drained to support the repair work. At times the tube repair is in an area that has to be accessed with what we call a "sky climber." Imagine riding on a small scaffold about the size of a Ferris wheel basket 8 to 9 stories to reach your work area. The work is hot, dirty, and strenuous, but those who do it know the importance of getting a unit back in service, particularly on a hot Indiana summer day when demand for power is high.
It is important to me to learn and be challenged by what I do for a living, but the fact that what I do contributes to providing a service to all who consume electricity makes it even better.
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