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by Share Brandt

Salute a Lineworker

When the lights go out during a storm, who do we rely on? Lineworkers – our soldiers of the storm. No matter how tough the working conditions, they will answer the call to restore power.

The electric co-op nation honors these hardworking men on April 13, the second Monday of April, by designating it National Lineworker Appreciation Day. Remember to thank your line crews for keeping or getting the lights back on. I love it when a member stands up at the co-op’s annual meeting during Q&A and gives kudos to the line crew for getting their lights back on quickly. Then the entire membership breaks into applause!

Lineworkers are our experts at making electricity delivery seem easy and always on. Our crews have made folks forget about the blinks and outages that used to occur in the early days of the system. With our line maintenance programs you experience fewer blinks due to trees or vegetation taking a line out of service. Our line crews have safer working conditions during an ice or wind storm when there are fewer downed trees to contend with.

We hold our lineworkers to a high standard because we want them working safely and returning home each day to their families and loved ones. They receive special technical training and once hired they are on a path to more training and higher earning potential. They wear a special wardrobe, not always comfortable, but for their safety it must be worn. You see, the system doesn’t function without our lineworkers.

Working on power lines is a serious matter and can be dangerous if safety procedures and personal protection equipment is not used properly. Electric cooperatives have been very focused on developing a safety culture throughout their organizations. We invest in safety upfront striving for zero accidents. Our success with this goal is growing and the evidence shows in lower accident and injury rates. The results of which keeps our employees healthy and fit for work. And finally these better outcomes result in reducing costs overall.

Electricity demand has grown dramatically over the past 30 years. Annual demand is estimated to increase 30 percent by 2035. At the same time, the upcoming waves of baby boomers reaching retirement age are driving significant workforce shortages. A 2011 study by the Center for Energy Workforce Development found that an estimated 46 percent of the energy workforce may need to be replaced by 2015. Skilled utility technicians such as lineworkers are a significant portion of the workforce shortages.

We encourage young people graduating from high school and members of the military returning from active duty to consider a career as a lineworker. If you like working outdoors, don’t mind heights, working with equipment, being on a team, and making a difference for your community you will like being a lineworker. If you want a career that provides pathways to growth, being a lineworker is a good start. Take this example from Jackson Electric Cooperative in Black River Falls: Kevin Babcock was recently named general manager of the co-op. He was the operations manager and prior to that he was a lineworker.



z© Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association