As a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Environmental Affairs Specialist Ron Hodge is used to heckling from his Alabama Power co-workers about football rivalries. He was born in Chattanooga and moved to Alabama in 1983. He has yet to convert to an Alabama team fan after 36 years.
With a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, Hodge began his professional career at Southern Research Institute. He gained experience in gas chromatography, a method that identifies substances within a test sample.
The experience prepared him for his current role in the Environmental General Testing Lab at the General Services Complex, where he is the primary analyst of transformer oil. The analyses diagnose the health of a transformer, much like when people go to a doctor to have blood work done. The analysis of transformers assists service engineers in keeping transformers online and operating optimally.
“The work Ron does is about more than samples and numbers,” said Durant Maske, Environmental Affairs supervisor. “His results can indicate trouble within the transformer before a major problem occurs, which allows for the transformers to be taken offline to be repaired in a manner that prevents the loss of expensive equipment and prevents outages for our customers.”
During the past year, more than 6,500 samples of transformer oil have been analyzed in the lab; the laboratory has analyzed more than 30,000 samples of all types.
Hodge performs transformer-oil analyses and performs polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) analyses of transformer oil.
“The best part of my job is the satisfaction of knowing the results that I produce help the transformer maintenance crews keep our equipment serviced and online to serve our customers,” Hodge said.
Hodge is a hero because his work often goes unrecognized but is vital to keeping the lights on.
“Never in a million years when I was studying chemistry at the University of Tennessee did I have a clue that I would be working in a transformer lab, generating results that help keep the power on for people,” Hodge said. “I’m proud the work I do impacts the company’s bottom line.”
The transformer lab, and the entire environmental laboratory, is available to all Southern Company affiliates, as well as external customers for immediate support on critical transmission equipment that ensures grid stability. This includes 24/7/365 emergency analytical testing. Hodge has been called out several times the past year on weekends and holidays to provide immediate support.
When Hodge is not in the lab, he and his wife, Marsha, enjoy leading the puppet ministry for the Pleasant Grove Church of God children’s ministry and teaching children’s church. This includes performing puppet shows for the children and developing the talents of the puppet team.
Each month, Alabama NewsCenter spotlights employees for their contributions to the company and the role they play in elevating Alabama.