Hats Off to The Electric Lineworkers of America

By the Executive Team and staff of Protect Our Power

After a year in which the definition of “hero” was redefined in many ways, this past Sunday marked a national appreciation day for one group of heroes whose claim to that name was unchanged, and in fact reinforced, in 2020 – the electric lineworkers of America.

April 18 was National Lineworkers Appreciation Day, dedicated to the approximately 75,000 men and women across the country who keep our electric supply system working, day in and day out, regardless of weather, hardship, or personal sacrifice. Their work powers our economy, ensures our supply of food and clean water, keeps our hospitals, emergency services and transportation systems running, and supports our way of life in many other often unseen ways.

Their work is also inherently dangerous — working high off the ground, or underground, in every weather condition imaginable, and often with the ever-present danger of live electricity. Statistically, being a lineworker is among the top 10 most dangerous jobs in America. Add the coronavirus to that mix, which in some locales required lineworkers to stay away from their families so they could be readily available for emergencies, and an already tough job became both tougher and also more vital, as hospitals depended on electricity to treat patients and manufacturers geared up to produce critical supplies and vaccines.

Congress recognized in 2013 the need to acknowledge lineworkers as heroes, passing a resolution noting that they “are often first responders during storms and other catastrophic events where these brave men and women work to make the scene safe for the other public safety heroes… [and] put their lives on the line every day with little recognition or appreciation from the community regarding the danger of their work…”

In 2017, lineworkers did get some national-level recognition in the movie “Life on the Line,” which offered a dramatic glimpse into the daily life of lineworkers, including not just the dangers faced daily, but also the hardships and challenges the job imposes on families. While the movie predictably contains some melodrama it, more importantly, reinforces the dedication that lineworkers have to their high-risk profession, as well as the pride they take in ensuring that the U.S. electricity supply system — the largest interconnected machine on Earth — is among the most reliable in the world.

While April 18 was officially Lineworker Appreciation Day, some companies and organizations are extending the celebration to the entire week. We would agree that the sheer magnitude and importance of the job – building and maintaining the 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and 5.5 million miles of local distribution lines that link thousands of generating plants to factories, homes, and businesses every minute of every day – deserves more than a single day of recognition.

So, this week or even for several more weeks, if you see a crew of lineworkers silhouetted against the sky or toiling on the ground, take a moment, silent or otherwise, to say thank you to the heroes that the rest of us rely on every day to provide the safety, security, and stability that a reliable, affordable supply of electricity brings to our lives.

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