Every year, utilities across the country celebrate National Lineman Appreciation Day in April to express gratitude for lineworkers and field representatives. Alabama Power recognizes these employees’ hard work and dedication to the company and the communities they serve.
Lineworker contributions are even more noteworthy this year as their commitment to safely providing Alabama reliable energy has not wavered even through the pandemic and a record-setting storm season in 2020.
“Our linemen have performed in the face of unprecedented challenges this past year, and I’m proud of their expertise and dedication to their craft,” said Scott Moore, Alabama Power senior vice president of Power Delivery. “National Lineman Appreciation Day is an opportunity to thank them for the superior work they do every day.”
IBEW System Council U-19 Business Manager Casey Shelton said, “It’s an honor for our trade to be recognized and the essential services lineworkers provide. In times of uncertainty, keeping the lights on is one constant that creates normalcy for our customers.”
The pandemic has prompted another layer of safety precautions on top of standard protections for line crews. Alabama Power asked the public to maintain social distancing of 6 feet from working crews to allow employees to safely serve customers and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Working with the public was one of the biggest challenges of the pandemic,” said James Webb, a lead lineman in Hueytown who celebrated his 30th year with the company in March. “We want to answer their questions and explain what we’re doing as best we can while making sure we’re keeping ourselves and the public safe.”
While the work has not changed in the past year, scheduling was sometimes a challenge because employees or their family members had to quarantine after exposure to the virus.
“The day-to-day schedule can change, and if someone is sick or in quarantine, it can mean more work with a smaller crew,” said Hueytown Lineman Wade Boyd, who has been with the company for nearly eight years. “But we run trouble as we always have – keep social distancing and adapt.”
Linemen faced an unprecedented year of storms in 2020. Alabama Power employees replaced 3,847 poles, 17,761 spans of wire and 31 transmission structures across Alabama with support from more than 10,000 personnel from 25 states and Canada.
Alabama Power crews also lent their support to other states after major hurricanes, tornadoes and other disasters. Crews traveled to New Jersey, Illinois, Texas and Louisiana.
Webb and Boyd were part of a team that spent time in Texas and Louisiana.
“Working in another state is different from working at home – from sleeping arrangements to getting the materials our crews need,” Webb said. “But we’re there for a purpose. Getting the lights on quickly and safely is always our main objective.”
Boyd added, “One of our biggest jobs was restoring power to a whole neighborhood in just a few days. Everyone was extremely happy with our performance and grateful for our support.”
National Lineman Appreciation Day, observed annually on April 18, was established by Congress in 2013 to “recognize linemen, the profession of linemen, and contributions of these brave men and women who protect public safety.” The bill acknowledged that linemen are often first responders during storms and other catastrophic events; their work continues 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to ensure reliable electricity; and they often work under challenging conditions, at times away from their families, to construct and maintain the country’s energy infrastructure.
Alabama also honors lineworkers statewide in June.
This year’s National Lineman Appreciation Day falls near the 10th anniversary of the historic wave of storms and tornadoes unleashed in Alabama on April 27, 2011. In the aftermath of those storms, crews replaced more than 7,600 poles, 3,000 transformers and 890 miles of power lines.
“Every day is unexpected,” said Boyd. “You may miss some holidays or birthdays, but this is what we do and what we signed up for. We do what has to be done to keep the lights on, quickly and safely.”
“It’s always rewarding when you flip that switch and turn the lights on,” said Webb. “You know you just put a smile on someone’s face.”
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)