Planners Help Communities Keep Their Lights On

The application period for SCE’s Service Planner Development Program opens March 20.

The sun is shining and beckoning Ashley Houston, a Southern California Edison technical planner, to come outside.

But before leaving the office, she adds some final touches to the construction plans she has been designing for a project to improve SCE’s power grid by upgrading power lines and replacing older utility poles in Victorville.

“That way we are creating a safer, more reliable way to get power to customers in our growing communities,” said Houston, who is based in SCE’s San Bernardino Regional Office. “By working with field engineers and civil inspectors, planners can accurately design the project to be completed in the field.”

Ashley Houston - Planner
The crew's foreman and Ashley Houston discuss the details of the construction plan in San Bernardino.

Being a planner runs in the family for Houston. Her father, brother and husband have worked as SCE planners.

“At a young age, I would sit and watch my father design work orders by hand drawing maps during a time when things weren’t so technologically advanced. I had always been intrigued with his work and hoped to one day follow in his footsteps,” she said.

Much to her father’s surprise, Houston, a graduate of California State University, San Bernardino, decided to become a planner after starting her career at the SCE customer service call center in 2010.

“I’ve never seen him so proud,” she said. “His only daughter out of three kids and I went the planning route, so it was a very special moment for him.”

There are three disciplines in planning: local, technical and new development. Houston finds each has its charms. Before becoming a technical planner, she was a local planner for three years.

“Local planning was great because of the fast-paced environment and the ability to work hand in hand with our customers and operations department. However, I also enjoy the large-scale projects that come with technical planning,” she said.

Though the transition may have seemed daunting, it was made easier with SCE’s Service Planner Development Program, which now includes three months of classroom training in Chino and nine months of on-the-job training in a work location.

During this time, planner trainees develop an understanding of electrical theory, learn how to prepare work orders, drawings and review construction plans critical for construction of new distribution electrical facilities. Each year, 20-30 planner trainees are selected for the full-time, paid positions.

Tobias Leonard, an SCE senior supervisor and fellow graduate of the program, oversees a team that includes planners.

“Planning is a great role here at SCE, there is ample opportunity and it puts you at the core of what our company does. You’ll learn a great deal while working with amazing people,” he said. “It’s pretty awesome.”

It’s finally time for Houston to strap on her safety boots and gear up to go out into the field to assess how crews are implementing work plans for her team’s other projects in the San Bernardino area.

“The best feeling in the world is seeing a job get completed in the field,” she said. “Whether it’s providing power to a family’s home or updating infrastructure in the field, there’s nothing quite like seeing your job out there and know that it is bettering life for our customers, families and businesses.”

To apply for the Service Planner Development Program by the March 31 deadline:

To learn about other careers at SCE, visit