Alan Powell, the son of a longtime lineman, has many warm memories of attending company picnics with his father.
“They truly are a great generation of folks, and that hasn’t changed,” said Powell, a Georgia state representative who has sponsored several bills honoring lineworkers. The latest one is a specialty license plate.
“They don’t always get the credit they deserve, and they did a bang-up job dealing with the destruction” after Tropical Storm Irma, said Powell.
Georgia motorists, by buying these license plates, can show their support for linemen and burn victims at the same time.
Officials from Georgia EMC, Jefferson Energy Cooperative, Georgia Power, and Electric Cities of Georgia unveiled the special lineman plate at a ceremony at an Augusta hospital last month.
Motorists can choose the plate when renewing their annual vehicle registrations. For the first 1,000 plates, the state’s Department of Revenue will waive the one-time $25 manufacturing fee for each contribution of the same amount to the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation (SFBF).
In addition, for as long as the motorist renews that plate, the charity will get a portion of the annual tag fee.
“Lineworkers are comparable to first responders. They’re the first to be called to the scene by firefighters when there are downed power lines,” said Bill Verner, senior vice president of external affairs at Georgia EMC in Tucker. “There’s great appreciation between the professions, which makes supporting the [SFBF] with this license plate even more meaningful.”
“While proceeds of the license plate will help thousands of burn patients and their families each year, we pray that no lineman will ever have need of our services,” said Linda McKnight, SFBF president/CEO.
Georgia joins a growing list of states, including Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, allowing motorists to buy the plates.
Lineworkers have a lot of fans in the Georgia state assembly, in addition to Powell. Other measures passed include a “move over law” protecting utility workers and a resolution recognizing April as Linemen Appreciation Month.
While there is spirited competition between EMCs, Georgia Power and the Electric Cities of Georgia, in this case it was quickly put aside.
“It was easy for us to come together to recognize all of our linemen and a very worthy cause,” said Verner.
Victoria A. Rocha is a staff writer at NRECA.