Watch: CoServ Electric, Lineman Appreciation Day 2017
Most celebrated it on April 10. Many waited until April 18. For some, it’s still going on.
No matter the date, families, friends, co-workers and customers expressed their gratitude to the nation’s 117,000 power line workers as part of National Lineman Appreciation Day.
“Electric linemen do not often receive the recognition they deserve,” said H. Wayne Wilkins, CEO of EnergyUnited in Statesville, North Carolina, one of dozens of co-ops that feted line crews on their special day.
“They work all hours of the day, often in hazardous conditions far from their families, going above and beyond to restore power to their communities. Our linemen, as well as linemen from across the nation, truly deserve this special day of recognition.”
In December 2014, the NRECA Board adopted a resolution recognizing the second Monday of each April as National Lineman Appreciation Day.
Many co-ops followed suit on April 10 this year, emphasizing the hashtag #ThankALineman, which became a trending item on social media. Paulding-Putnam Electric Co-op was among those urging members to honor linemen with a social media post.
“Our lineworkers are the heart of Paulding-Putnam Electric Co-Op,” said George Carter, president and CEO of the Paulding, Ohio-based co-op. “They work in challenging conditions to power our members and communities. We are proud to honor lineworkers who keep the lights on for so many people in our service territory.”
Southside Electric Cooperative, Crewe, Virginia, reported receiving more than 100 comments on social media, including a thank-you from a family member. “I pray for each of you when our weather is bad. My son is one of your family, and I am a proud mother to say he is one of you. Thank you seems small for the work you do. Blessings to each of you,” the member wrote.
Lineworkers should be appreciated for more than just their skill in keeping the power flowing, added Steve Stroshane, general manager of Polk Burnett Electric Co-op, Centura, Wisconsin.
“Last year, linemen and co-op employees provided 675 hours of community service, helping at a food shelf, raking for seniors, building a Habitat [for Humanity] house and installing lights at a school ball field, just to name a few. You’ll also see co-op linemen after hours, serving as firefighters, coaches and Sunday school teachers,” he noted in his message of appreciation.
CoServ Electric, Corinth, Texas, put together a video tribute to linemen, while Energy United hosted breakfasts for linemen in different parts of its 19-county service territory throughout the week.
Some utilities waited until April 18 to tip their hats to those in hardhats. That’s the residue of legislation that cleared the U.S. Senate in 2013, designating the date as the first-ever National Lineman Appreciation Day.
Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., introduced a similar measure in the House of Representatives this year, but it is still in a subcommittee.
United Power, Brighton, Colorado, set aside April 18 as a day to honor its line crews. “Our linemen, as well as linemen from across the nation, truly deserve this special day of recognition,” said Chief Operations Officer Bryant Robbins.
One of the most expansive celebrations still is occurring in Georgia, where a day has turned into a month.
Gov. Nathan Deal signed a proclamation declaring April to be Lineman Appreciation Month, giving electric membership corporations and other utilities the option to celebrate within their communities at a date and time best suited for them.
The state also is in the process of creating a special license plate to honor linemen, with proceeds going to the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation. The design is expected to be revealed this summer, a few months after Ohio unveiled a lineman license plate.
“Linemen are the first responders of our workforce, and they’re always ready to get the job done, day or night,” said Chip Jakins, president and CEO of Jackson EMC, Jefferson, Georgia, which has employs 132 lineworkers. “Whether they’re restoring power after a major storm or maintaining critical infrastructure for our electric system, linemen are at the heart of everything we do.”
Steven Johnson is a staff writer at NRECA.