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Blake handles range of concerns

Former journeyman now NTPC's customer service liaison officer

Malcolm Gorril
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Oct 26/01) - Herbert Blake Jr. has gone from fixing equipment to tackling customer complaints.

Blake, who grew up in Fort McPherson, worked for about 25 years as a journeyman electrician, mostly in southern Canada, before joining Northwest Territories Power Corp. in December 1998. On Sept. 5 he switched positions with NTPC, and is now customer service liaison officer for the Beaufort Delta-Sahtu region.

NNSL Photo

Since September Herbert Blake Jr: Customer service liaison officer for the Beaufort Delta-Sahtu region for Northwest Territories Power Corp. - Malcolm Gorrill/NNSL photo

"The dynamics of this job are just so different from what I did before," Blake said.

"Every day when I get here, it's never the same. Every time I pick up the phone or I get some correspondence, it's a different concern or it's a different need," he said.

"I get to wear a lot of different hats."

Power outages are one area of concern that Blake deals with, but he explained he also helps customers reduce their consumption, partly by pointing out how much certain items use up.

"Electricity is so convenient, you can just do things at the flick of a switch, right, you don't really know how much you're using."

Blake will go to homes and check voltage levels and other things. He used heat tape as an example, a device which heats water lines so they don't freeze in winter.

"A lot of people may not be aware they have a heat tape on their water lines coming into the house, they may not know it has been running all summer," Blake said.

"There's things like that I can point out."

Blake also works closely with the mayors, senior administrative officers, and band councils within the region, in efforts to find ways for them to reduce their costs.

Sometime in November NTPC will hold an energy awareness conference for commercial and residential users within Inuvik who are interested in reducing energy consumption.

Another such conference will take place sometime in the new year in Inuvik that will target people from the surrounding communities. A conference will also take place in Norman Wells for the Sahtu area.

"I also work closely with different community organizations, trying to donate money or sponsor any community related events," Blake said.

He explained NTPC especially likes assisting young people, for things like trips outside the NWT, so that they can understand their dreams can be realized.

Blake is putting together some electrical safety education programs he will deliver to all elementary schools in the region.

"That's probably the best place for us to start, is the younger grades."

Early riser

Blake usually arrives for work around 7:30 a.m. He reads his e-mail and plans his day. He has a friend who does the same sort of thing in Yellowknife, so he said he had some idea what to expect.

Blake said he expected the job to be challenging and exciting. "And it is, I love coming to work."

Blake said one thing he hopes to help do is improve NTPC's image.

"We're trying to make the public aware of certain things that we're doing, and why things are happening the way they are."