Meet BPA employee Mike Cohan, an energy efficiency metering technician who travels throughout our service territory identifying areas where customers can conserve electricity.
I enjoy working with my hands, and when it came to engineering, it just clicked and made sense.Mike Cohen, Metering technician
I am a metering technician. Using specialized equipment for testing and measuring, I work in many different sectors to include residential, commercial and agricultural, and travel all throughout the entire BPA territory to gather energy usage on equipment such as boilers and chillers to help our mechanical and electrical engineers with their energy audits.
How does your work support BPA’s mission and strategy?
The goal of energy efficiency is to do the same thing we’ve always done but use less energy. I help find ways to cut energy usage by determining what the customer’s current usage is, and with the help of my BPA co-workers, find financial incentives to upgrade customers to more efficient equipment.
How does your work help BPA keep rates low, stick to budget, reduce debt or generate revenue?
The energy information I gather on equipment usually helps encourage the customer to change out their inferior existing equipment for the newer, more energy efficient option. Energy efficiency is the lowest cost resource, so with each project, I’m helping the hydropower generated from the federal dams stretch further.
A new or technical aspect of my job that I enjoy is:
Technology is always changing. Even while I have been here for the past four years, the equipment has evolved and changed how I do metering.
The coolest or most surprising thing about my job is:
Being able to see new places around the Northwest that I normally wouldn’t. One business trip led me to the Salt Flats near Salt Lake City. I’ve also been to a lot of different areas throughout Montana. Recently I have been traveling around the Tacoma area and will find myself soon traveling throughout central Oregon. It’s fun to work with all of BPA’s diverse utility customers throughout our service territory.
I like working at BPA because:
The people are amazing. My co-workers are fun and easy to work with.
Safety is a core value at BPA. How do you incorporate safe behavior (See, Say, Do) into your practices and environment?
Safety is my number one concern. In the field, I find myself in higher risk places such as construction sites or high-voltage sites. So I take my time to assess all the risks and do what I can to minimize them, including wearing proper personal protective equipment, practicing “lock out / tag out” (where you physically shut down the equipment and lock it so no one but you can turn it on) and cordon off the area with rope to keep people out of the work area.
My most memorable story while working at BPA is:
In 2019, we had a great workgroup retreat in Portland. My team employs staff all over BPA’s service territory, so with all of us working so far away from each other, it was great to see everyone in person and do activities together.
Tell us about your notable accomplishments, past jobs, awards, published work, etc.
I assisted in a major energy audit in Nevada involving the Montego Bay casino and its utility, Wells Rural Electric Company. It ended with the casino upgrading a lot of its equipment, resulting in a huge drop in energy consumption and financial savings to the casino.
My favorite thing about working and living in the Northwest is:
I love fishing, and this is a great place to do it. I just got a new boat last year so I have been exploring up and down the Columbia River.
Two things I can’t live without are:
My friends and family.
I am inspired by:
I have worked with great people here at BPA and during my time in the military. My colleagues Tony Koch in Seattle and Dick Stroh in Idaho Falls have many years of knowledge under their belt, and I’ll always be grateful for their mentorship.
Where did you go to school? What did you study? What attracted you to that/those subject(s)?
I attended the Community College of the Air Force while stationed at multiple bases and Park University in Parkville, Missouri. I studied aviation maintenance and mechanical and electrical technology. I enjoy working with my hands, and when it came to engineering, it just clicked and made sense.
Did you serve in the U.S Armed Forces? If so, what branch and what did you do?
I retired in May 2022 with over 21 years of combined service with the U.S. Air Force and Washington State National Guard. My assignments have taken me across the globe, including Afghanistan, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Latvia, Thailand, and to several locations within the U.S. Closer to home, I was part of the team conducting search and rescue operations during the Oso, Washington, mudslide in 2014. And not so close to home, when stationed on a NATO base in the Middle East, I taught Australians how to keep their cool by conducting training programs that covered how to install and maintain air conditioning in the Middle East. In other parts of the world, I also helped construct various types of facilities and upgraded HVAC installations at a training center serving persons with disabilities, at a NATO school and at a children’s hospital. Another experience I’ve had is participating in rescue training exercises in Southeast Asia.
Awards recognize Frank Brown and Margaret Lewis for lifetime achievement and excellence in customer service.
The United States and Canada will hold the eleventh round of negotiations to modernize the Columbia River Treaty regime on December 9, 2021.