Unsung heroes keep our lights on, protect safety
By Patrick C. McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator
Beginning with the invention of the Edison lightbulb in 1879, electric linemen have kept the nation energized. Today, more than 115,000 linemen and women install and maintain the nation’s nine million miles of electric grid to meet our power needs.
The City of College Station and the U.S. Congress are recognizing Saturday as National Lineman Appreciation Day to honor the hard-working folks who protect public safety and keep our power on. Linemen rarely get the recognition they deserve for working all hours of the day and night — often in hazardous conditions — and going above and beyond to maintain and restore our power.
Linemen are part of the first responder community, which means trouble calls usually come at night in all types of conditions and weather. Police officers, firefighters and paramedics can usually see the emergency issues they face, but electricity is invisible, which can create extremely hazardous environments during storms and other events. Most of our trouble calls are handled by two-person crews, but for bigger events, it’s all hands on deck.
Unlike most occupations, linemen spend a large part of their working lives high above the ground to maintain our electrical infrastructure such as power lines and poles. Fortunately, College Station is committed to the reliability of underground utility construction, and more than 50 percent of our electric grid is underground.
Our electric personnel are required to be knowledgeable in both overheard and underground electrical systems and work with a voltage range as high as 138,000 volts down to the standard 120 volts you use at home.
When you consider all these factors, it’s easy to understand why the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics rates being an electric lineman as one of the country’s 10 most dangerous occupations. This infographic illustrates some of the finer points of the job:
If you get a chance, take time to thank a lineman for the hard work, courage, dedication and innovation they bring to their jobs every day.
Twitter Hashtag: #thankalineman
About Patrick: Patrick C. McIntyre is energy coordinator for College Station Utilities and is responsible for the energy conservation and key accounts programs. Pat joined CSU as a key accounts representative in 2009. He previously worked for 17 years in the manufacturing sector and eight years as a consultant with the Texas Engineering Extension Service. Pat graduated from Texas A&M in 1982 with B.S. in Industrial Distribution and has lived in the area since 1984.