We Energies worker shares his love for the job in behind the scenes interview: 'There's pride in this work'

After two decades in the industry, Dale Malecha is the first face residents will see on scene when their power is out.
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Posted at 9:18 AM, Mar 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-15 10:18:45-04

WEST ALLIS — People often see We Energies trucks after a storm or major outage. What people don’t see is the work that goes into turning the lights back on.

After two decades in the industry, Dale Malecha can explain how just about any piece of power equipment works

He began working for We-Energies as a lineman, or the people you see fixing power lines, 23 years ago before moving his way up the ladder to become a Troubleshooter.

“[Linemen] do the fixing, I do the figuring,” explained Malecha. “And that’s what I enjoy about the job.”

Malecha is the first face residents will see on the scene when their power is out. It's his job to look around, figure out what went wrong, and see if crews are needed.

“It’s like a puzzle. One job I’m sent to can sound identical to a job that I just came from, but when you get out there, circumstances can make it a completely different job.”

He'll be the first to say how much he loves solving the problems he's called to fix, but on days when storms are knocking out power for thousands of residents at a time, there can certainly be frustration.

January's storms that caused record-breaking outages were an example of that.

“The trees would accumulate snow, they would contact our wires and they would cause an outage, and that would cause the snow to fall off the tree,” explained Malecha. “But since it was still snowing, five minutes, ten minutes after we got the power back on, another tree somewhere else on the very same line would do the same thing.”

The result was 233,000 outages, some going on for days.

“Obviously first we prioritize hazard, if there's a hazardous situation, we are going to get to that and address that first,” the Troubleshooter shared.

He says after that they’ll tackle the outages that affect the most amount of people and work their way through the list from there.

Those situations mean 16-hour shifts, and plenty of problem-solving, but for Malecha, all the hard work is a labor of love.

“I love it, that’s my favorite part of this job, honestly,” he said. “My favorite part is just the fact that nothing’s the same and there’s a reason for everything.”