Atlantic City residents learn electric work on the job in Brigantine

May 03, 2022

BRIGANTINE — A project to update electric service and replace two Brigantine substations with one state-of-the-art, flood-proof facility is also giving 16 Atlantic City residents a chance to train for jobs in the electric power industry.

Jingoli Power is the main contractor for Atlantic City Electric on its Atlantic City Brigantine Community Reliability Project, which includes installing new transmission poles and lines to the island, and building a new substation. Jingoli has arranged for 16 Atlantic City residents to get jobs showing them the broad diversity of the energy field.

It’s part of Jingoli Power’s nationwide program called “Competitive Edge” that the company runs wherever it does work, said Amber Hamlett of Hamlett Consulting in Atlantic City. Her firm is handling public relations for the program. It’s a way for the company to give back to the communities it works in, she said.

“You only know what you are exposed to,” said one of the trainees, Hakeem Ceaser, 32, of Atlantic City.

“I didn’t know anything,” Ceaser said, of all the jobs that make up the running of an electric power substation.

The father of a 13-year-old daughter said he was at loose ends because of the COVID-19 pandemic when he heard about Jingoli’s program from a friend.

Senior Engineer Alfonso Nava and Engineer Roberto Polanco are Atlantic City Electric employees who are acting as mentors to program participants. They grew up in Atlantic City and have made good careers in electric power.

“We’re in the field a lot of the time,” Nava said. “We show them what our day is like … and the different technical careers they could pursue.”

Trainees have no idea that relay and communications technician jobs exist, Nava said.

“They come in thinking they all want to be linemen,” Polanco said. “They come out and see all the crafts and interact on a daily basis and their eyes light up. There are a lot of different craft and management, and finance and communications jobs.”

Relay technicians, for example, run the microprocessor computers and monitor the daily operations of the substation, Polanco and Nava said.

Communications technicians specialize in getting information generated at the substation to the people who can fix problems.

“Without that, nothing gets back. It stays in the substation,” Polanco said.

The 16 trainees began work on site in February, said Jingoli Site Supervisor Tom Gibson, who has been with the company since 1996. He didn’t have statistics on job placement for those who have gone through the program elsewhere, but said there is a very high rate of job placement for participants.

Chris Kennedy, senior project manager for Atlantic City Electric, said the new lines bringing power to the city and the new substation will make electric service both safer and dependable.

The old substation, right next to the one being built on Bayshore Road, flooded during Superstorm Sandy, Kennedy said.

The new one will be elevated 15 to 20 feet, he said.

“It will make it better and safer for technicians who work here,” Kennedy said. “That’s a big deal.”

Fuquran Davis, 34, of Atlantic City, was a massage therapist before joining the training program. A family member told him about the Jingoli program.

“It was something different,” said Davis, a father of two boys, ages 14 and 7. “I thought, ‘Let’s give it a try.’”

So far, he’s particularly intrigued by substation work. He said he was surprised by the variety of workers it takes to keep the lights on.

“When I got into it, I saw how many job titles and positions there are,” Davis said. “It can take you to so many places.”

Neither Davis nor Ceaser has college degrees. But not having a college degree doesn’t disqualify anyone, Gibson said.

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