Friday, 08 May 2020 08:38

RichmondCC substation graduate continues upward move with Duke Energy

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 Richmond Community College graduate Chris Holt represented for Duke Energy at the “Power the World” career fair that attracts utility companies nationwide to come meet students in the Electric Utility Substation & Relay Technology program. Holt was in the first class that graduated from the substation program. Richmond Community College graduate Chris Holt represented for Duke Energy at the “Power the World” career fair that attracts utility companies nationwide to come meet students in the Electric Utility Substation & Relay Technology program. Holt was in the first class that graduated from the substation program. RCC

HAMLET — Chris Holt was among the first class of students to graduate from Richmond Community College’s Electric Utility Substation & Relay Technology program in 2013. Seven years later, he is now a senior relay technician for Duke Energy, serving as the lead tech for a crew out in the field.

“I serve as a liaison for the supervisor,” Holt said, describing duties in scheduling, planning, ordering materials and equipment, as well as developing specific training needs for members of a crew. 

A far cry from where the 21-year-old started with Duke just 10 days after graduating from RichmondCC. The “bottom of the ranks,” however, for an entry-level relay technician was more money than Holt had ever made.

“I interned for Progress Energy, before the merger with Duke, during the first year that I was in the program,” he said. “After that internship, the company offered me a job (upon graduation), so going into my second year at age 20, I knew I was going to have a job making more than $20 an hour — when I’d never made over minimum wage before in any other job.”

About the Program

The EUSRT program at RichmondCC is the first of its kind in the state of North Carolina and only offered at a handful of colleges nationwide. Established in 2011 in partnership between RichmondCC and Duke Energy, the EUSRT program prepares students for lucrative careers in the electric utility industry and other industries that rely on complex control systems.

Holt said people looking to go into this field can benefit from having a background in electrical systems, but he said mostly they need to be determined and adaptable.

“You are working with high voltage and large equipment, so you need to also have a willingness to say ‘I don’t know’ at times; otherwise, you can damage equipment or even worse injure someone.”

Relocation: A Must and a Plus

A resident of Hamlet, Holt commutes to his job in Aberdeen. Students coming out of the EUSRT program now must be willing to relocate because the local relay technician jobs have all been filled, thanks to the success of the RichmondCC program. 

The demand for relay technicians, however, has not decreased. RichmondCC hosts a career fair two times a year for utility companies looking to fill these positions. The career fair has attracted companies from all over the world to come speak to students in the substation program and see what they have to offer. 

Holt represented Duke Energy at the “Power the World” career fair at RichmondCC last November, where he talked to the next generation of RichmondCC relay technicians eager to start their careers. 

“Are you willing to relocate is one of the questions we asked the students,” Holt said.

While working locally himself, Holt thinks traveling provides new experiences and additional skills training for a relay technician.

“I’m localized to one system, the system that Duke Energy uses. But if you are traveling, you are seeing multiple power companies and multiple ways of doing things,” he said.

A Life-changing Decision 

As for Holt, the EUSRT program changed the course of his life drastically. He was already enrolled at RichmondCC and had come to the career center looking for a job. What he found was a flyer for the brand new “substation” program. He decided to give it a shot. 

That shot turned into a lifelong career that has only just begun for this young man.

To learn more about this program that can jumpstart a life-changing career, call RichmondCC at 910-410-1700 or visit www.richmondcc.edu. Interested individuals may also contact EUSRT instructor Brian Terry directly at 910-410-1941 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The College is now registering students for summer and fall semesters.

 

Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2020 08:48