As a kid, Jake Kinsman, 29 of Morton, lived by a hydroelectric plant. He was always curious about what was inside that big concrete structure. “I always wanted to get into the energy industry, but figured I would never get the opportunity,” Kinsman, a hydroelectric mechanic at Tacoma Power, said. “I was working as a millwright and didn’t plan on switching careers until the recession laid me off.”
Kinsman qualified for the dislocated worker program and discovered that doors were beginning to open. “I was excited when I found out that I could go to Centralia College and enroll in the Energy Technology program,” Kinsman said. He enrolled in Centralia College’s Associate of Applied Science in Energy Technology program in spring of 2010. It gave him the foundation he needed to understand the industry.
Kinsman then began working for Tacoma Power in June 2011. “The first day I had butterflies like no other, but once I got to know the crew, I realized I would fit right in. After my orientation was done, they threw me right into the mix of things,” Kinsman said.
Kinsman graduated a year later and has been advancing in his career ever since. “Jake placed number one on the Hydroelectric Mechanics test for the City of Tacoma last summer,” Milt Hollingsworth, a fellow Centralia College classmate and Tacoma Power hydroelectric plant electrician, said. “His degree at Centralia College played a large part of his success.”
“It is impossible for me to describe a typical day at work. Every day is different. That is what I love most about this job. I could be working in the power houses one day, on the dam the next, and taking care of wildlife lands the next,” Kinsman said.
Kinsman also enjoys giving plant tours for the college’s energy technology students. “I like knowing that what I do every day makes a huge difference in the community,” Kinsman added. “Working in power generation is an extremely rewarding job and I get to work outside in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Tacoma Power is a great company to work for in all aspects.”
Tacoma Power offers tuition reimbursement to its employees, has donated used equipment for educational purposes and lent staff to advise program curriculum. Pat McCarty, generation manager, also serves as the chairman for the center’s advisory board.