Get to Know: Terry Burry, Team Lead – Fleet Services

As team lead for fleet services at Churchill Falls, Terry keeps vehicles and equipment operating safely at one of the largest underground hydro plants in North America. And he’s charged up about the future of electric vehicles across our operations.

Tell us about yourself.
I’m originally from Norman’s Cove, but I’ve been living and working in Churchill Falls for about three years. I worked as a heavy duty mechanic and crane operator in the oil industry most of my life. But after being out west for a few years, I really wanted to get back home to be with my wife and family full time. When the opportunity came up in Churchill Falls, I went for it and have been here ever since!

What does an average day look like for you?
As team lead for Fleet Services, I manage all operations and maintenance of our fleet – that includes our maintenance crews (heavy and light duty mechanics) and mobile equipment operators, plus over 300 pieces of equipment and vehicles. That includes everything from fleet vehicles, lawn mowers, dump trucks, everything. I also manage fleet vehicles for some of our other operational areas as well, including Muskrat Falls and Soldier’s Pond. To do that, I work closely with our maintenance crews and mechanics, reviewing plans every day and ensuring they have the equipment and tools they need to keep everything running.

Why is your job important to Hydro?
I lead a team of really dedicated workers here at Churchill Falls – people of all ages, experience levels and backgrounds. Everybody’s job is important and critical to the work we do in Churchill Falls, helping the system operate smoothly and keeping the power flowing. My role is to ensure the team has the tools that they need to do their jobs safely, so I’m one part of a big operation that everyone contributes to each day.

What’s something about your job that you think most people wouldn’t know?
Many people are surprised that we have four electric vehicles in our fleet at Churchill Falls. We use electric vehicles to access our powerhouse because we can’t use gasoline powered vehicles underground – so we have a dedicated electric vehicle parking area and charging station inside our powerhouse, which is 1,100 feet underground! By using electric vehicles, we’re not producing any emissions or polluting the air quality down there, which is very important for the health and safety of our workers.

Churchill Falls is the second-largest underground hydro plant in North America, so we have to be leaders, step up and do our part to protect the environment. In the future, we hope to add more electric equipment and trucks used in the underground operations. More and more equipment and vehicles are being introduced on the market all the time – everything from bucket trucks to snowmobiles. I’m excited about the future of EVs for us!

What’s it like driving an electric vehicle in Churchill Falls – especially in winter?
It’s a common myth that electric vehicles won’t work in cold temperatures, but as most people know it gets pretty cold in Churchill Falls in winter – temperatures and wind chills in the -40 degree range. Electric vehicles heat up really fast in winter. When you pre-heat them, they heat up twice as fast as a conventional vehicle because you don’t have to wait for the engine to warm up… it’s almost instant heat. And because the battery in electric vehicles is located in the floor, the cars are generally heavy for their size and have a very low centre of gravity – so they’re very stable and we find they handle very well on icy and snow-covered roads.
People often think electric vehicles will be small and won’t perform well, but are pleasantly surprised by how quiet, responsive and good they are to drive in winter. In my experience, once people give them a try, they want to keep driving them!

What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?
When I see our vehicles and equipment travelling and operating safely around town, it gives me a lot of pride to know that my team is playing a big part of that and helping ensure we’re generating safe, reliable electricity for customers here at home and around North America.