Stephenson, Langford, Kuhn Celebrate National Lineworker Appreciation Day
The following post was co-authored by Lonnie Stephenson , Mike Langford & Tom Kuhn
Today, America’s electric companies honor our nation’s nearly 75,000 lineworkers. These men and women work day and night in all conditions to ensure that customers in communities across the United States have reliable and safe access to the energy they need.
With every advancement in technology, Americans are using electricity in more ways than ever to power their everyday lives, to stay connected, and to drive the nation’s prosperity. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) celebrate National Lineworker Appreciation Day to honor the dedication and skill of these men and women who perform some of the electric power industry’s most visible and important jobs.
Whether restoring power after Mother Nature strikes or developing and deploying the many innovative technologies needed to create the energy future our customers want, the men and women of America’s electric companies are delivering America’s energy future. Critical to this effort is the partnership among electric companies and organized labor groups like the IBEW and UWUA, whose members make up much of the electric power industry’s workforce. We are proud of the work we do together to attract and support highly proficient and adaptable employees who have the expertise to maintain and manage the ever-changing energy grid and potential impacts to it.
When storms and other disasters hit, electric companies work together to respond safely, swiftly, and efficiently to restore power. Mutual assistance is a hallmark of the electric power industry, and it played a pivotal role throughout the historic 2017 hurricane season. More than 10,000 lineworkers and support personnel from 21 states helped to restore power after Hurricane Harvey, and an army of more than 60,000 workers and support personnel from across the country and Canada helped to restore power to the more than 7.8 million customers impacted by Hurricane Irma.
Hurricane Maria, a devastating Category 4 storm, impacted all critical infrastructure and damaged at least 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s energy grid. The hurricane caused extensive damage unlike anything our industry has ever seen. Nearly 60 investor-owned electric companies and public power utilities sent approximately 3,000 lineworkers and support personnel, barged more than 1,000 trucks to the island, and provided critical materials to help restore power to our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.
The dedicated men and women who volunteered for the Puerto Rico mission left their families for weeks and months at a time, and they spent long days working in challenging conditions to help restore power to customers on the island. These lineworkers and support personnel went above and beyond the call of duty. Many volunteered their limited personal time off to repair damaged homes, replace lights at educational and recreational facilities for children, and assist with other areas of need to help the people of Puerto Rico.
Simply put, lineworkers are heroes and are critical to ensuring that all Americans have access to safe and reliable electricity. They will continue to be on the front lines, helping to ensure that energy is delivered where and when it is needed. By delivering on our commitment to provide the safe, reliable, affordable, and increasingly clean energy customers need, our industry prides itself on creating value for every customer and every community in America. Behind it all is the dedication, talent, ingenuity, and hard work of our men and women.
Please join us in thanking our lineworkers who work hard to keep the lights on across the country every day. These men and women truly deserve our recognition and appreciation.
Lonnie Stephenson is international president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents 775,000 active members and retirees.
Mike Langford is national president of the Utility Workers Union of America, which represents more than 50,000 members working in electric, natural gas, water, and nuclear industries across the United States.
Tom Kuhn is president of the Edison Electric Institute, the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies.