Close this search box.

Drawing the Forest Line

Risto Uusitalo, who supervises the work on the Forest Line transmission line worksite, spends his days meeting contractors and conducting site inspections in the field. Many of his colleagues are also familiar with Risto’s dog, Ilona, who sometimes accompanies him on-site. This is the first in a new series of articles about “Professional in the spotlight”.

Is anything special happening with the Forest Line at the moment?
Work has now begun on the final two stretches of the Forest Line – known as sections E and F. As a supervisor, I am involved in contractor’s kick-off meetings, where we review the work phases before going out into the field. We also ensure that matters related to safety, the environment and contractor obligations are handled as we want them to be. In the field, I conduct site inspections to ensure that this theory is put into practice.

The kick-off meetings have just been held, and the contractors have started making agreements on the use of worksite roads and landowner issues. Work on the foundations for the guyed towers is well underway, and it will soon commence for the free-standing towers once the ice roads are strong enough to bear the weight of the cement mixers. The mild winter is making it difficult to prepare ice roads across marshland. Logging is going well along the transmission line corridors, and it will continue on the winter sites.

The contractors and I have met with landowners at redemption kick-off meetings. Participating in these meetings helps to streamline the project’s progress.

What did you do before your current job?
After I completed my military service, I began working at Strömberg’s large transformer factory in Vaasa while also travelling for work. I graduated as an electrical power technician in 1986. After that, I moved to Muhos and worked in an operational position at a hydro power company called Oulujoki Oy. Inspired by company changes, I joined IVO Voimansiirto in 1994, before the name-change to Fingrid in 1997. I worked as the group leader for the Northern Finland regional centre and then as operations planner. For a long time now, I have been able to concentrate almost entirely on transmission line work.

It feels as if I am now finishing my final project, as we are building the Forest Line and then RAC3 – the third cross-border connection with Sweden.

What is good about your work or the energy sector in general?
Everything is in such a state of flux that no two days are alike. There is so much involved in building transmission lines, from the foundations all the way to the lighting conductors at the top of each tower.

We are constantly surrounded by change in the energy sector. At the moment, it is great to be involved in developing the network that will form the basis for using renewable energy. In just a short time, I have noticed the shift away from large coal-fired power stations as more wind power is connected to the network.

The work itself is changing thanks to new tools. Global warming will also give rise to challenges and things that need to be developed in the field.

Would you like to say anything about your family and hobbies?
My wife and I are originally from Vihanti. In our busiest years, our household also included two boys and one girl, all of whom are now working or studying.

My favourite hobby is spending time outside with Ilona, my dog, which also helps to keep me fit. I also do a little photography. If I ever find the time, I also plan to fix up a 1980s classic car.

What do people not know about you?
People may not know that I own an ice swimming simulator. I built it using a milk-cooler that I purchased from a dairy. Cold-water swimming accelerates muscle recovery and eases pains in the joint – I strongly recommend it!

I also have a maiden name: Kontinaho. When I got married, I took my wife’s surname, Uusitalo (which means ‘New House’ in Finnish). I have always liked new things, so the change of name felt like a natural option because my mother’s maiden name was Vanhatalo (‘Old House’ in Finnish).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *