National Lineman Appreciation Day, April 11
National Lineman Appreciation Day is held on the second Monday in April each year. It is a day set aside to show appreciation for their work and all they do to keep the lights on for cooperative members.
“Our lineworkers are an important part of our overall employee team. They are essential to keeping the lights on. Without a well-maintained system, we do not have reliable electric service,” Lorain-Medina Rural Electric Cooperative General Manager Markus Bryant said.
“Our job is important because we keep the power and lights on all the time for our consumers,” 23-year Lineman Jim Brasee said. “It’s nice to work directly for the consumers.”
“The difference of a cooperative is that it’s member-owned and we are not working for a profit. Members have the capital credit refunds where we share the margins so the members feel they are getting a better value for what they are paying for,” said 22-year Lineman Jim Spears.
Compared to statistics for the other Ohio cooperatives, LMRE consistently ranks among the top 25 percent in terms of the least number of outage hours per year. Reliable service can be attributed to dedicated line crews, who are committed to a strong and aggressive maintenance program. Plus, there’s a willingness to work in adverse weather conditions, from stifling heat to high winds to bitter cold and blustery winter weather.
“The worst situation we’ve had was the 2005 ice storm, where they worked not only under icy conditions and low temperatures, but also for very long hours at a time,” Bryant said.
“One of the hardest parts of my job is the freezing cold temperatures and the really hot days in the summertime. Sometimes, the long hours during the night or multiple days in a row working during a storm restoration takes a toll,” said three-year Lineman Apprentice Joel Miller.
As part of the linemen’s training, safety is emphasized. It’s actually one of the key cornerstones of the working culture at LMRE that starts with the board of trustees. The poster in the truck bay clearly states the goal of each lineworker. “We work safely for our members and families. Going home at the end of the day — priceless!” The poster shows a toddler in a lineman’s tool bag.
“The consumer probably doesn’t realize working on the high-voltage lines requires a lot of safety precautions and a lot of rules you have to follow,” said Brasee. “There is just so much involved to do the job right and to do it safely.”
In terms of lineman training, they participate in a structured four-year apprenticeship program. They attend the lineman training school in Columbus, Ohio, where they cover pole-climbing skills, construction of overhead and underground line, operation of digger derricks and bucket trucks, and transformers and other electric utility apparatus functions, and they learn how to safely use tools of the trade along with other related safety and technical aspects.
“One of the hardest parts of my job is to make sure I keep using everything I’ve learned each day and applying it to the next day,” said first-year Lineman Apprentice Luke Stone.
“One of the other measures of the importance of our line crews is our overall member satisfaction numbers. We are ranked very high by our members for both reliability of service as well as affordable rates. Their ability to keep the lights on reflects their hard work,” Bryant said. “We have here at the cooperative a well-engineered and well-maintained system. I think our members appreciate that, which is why they consistently give us high satisfaction scores.”
“Nobody really sees the day-to-day maintenance that we put into the lines to keep them operational all the time with less outages, building a better system to keep the outage numbers down,” Miller said.
“I would like to say ‘thank you’ to our linemen for their hard work and dedication. On behalf of the board of trustees, the members, and myself, I want to extend our sincere appreciation for everything they do to keep the lights on for our members,” Bryant said. “And they do it by working safely at the same time.”