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BY SCOTT MEINECKE

You may not think about them until your power goes out, but electric lineworkers protect our homes and communities 
24 hours a day. Like other first responders who keep us safe, lineworkers endure all kinds of weather and challenging conditions.

In April, we officially celebrate Lineworker Appreciation Day to honor the men and women who power our lives. However, the work of lineworkers is celebrated and appreciated every day of the year. Here are some facts about the career of lineworkers.

Nearly two centuries of history

Lineworkers first appeared during the 1840s rush to spread telegraph service across the U.S., stringing wires between trees and other natural objects. It didn’t take long for everyone to realize tall poles were safer and more practical.

Today, more than 122,000 U.S. lineworkers are responsible for maintaining and upgrading the nation’s electric grid that connects more than 7,300 power plants to 145 million consumers. The grid also includes 60,000 miles of high-voltage lines, millions of miles of distribution lines and more than 50 million transformers.

On-the-job training

Described by the U.S. Department of Energy as one of the nation’s highest-paid professions that doesn’t demand postsecondary education, becoming a journeyman lineworker typically requires a high school diploma or equivalent, training and a paid apprenticeship, which generally spans four years. Apprentice lineworkers receive hands-on training and experience in the field before advancing to “journeyman” status.

Powering our communities

Restoring electricity after a power outage is just one of the many duties of lineworkers and is often the most visible. In addition, lineworkers perform many other essential services that power Iowa’s communities. Some of these responsibilities include:

  • Installing and connecting new power lines to homes and businesses;
  • Maintaining and performing upgrades to improve our electric grid;
  • Diagnosing and pinpointing power delivery issues;
  • Planning and managing large-scale projects; and
  • Ensuring safe work practices in often challenging conditions.
Inspiring safety

Each year, lineworkers respond to devastating storms and the damage they leave behind. In addition, lineworkers face various dangers, including electric shock, falls from elevated work locations and roadside traffic accidents.

Safety is always the number one priority, so lineworkers continuously receive training to stay mindful of safety requirements and up to date on the latest equipment and procedures.

The next time you see a lineworker, remember to thank them for their essential work. And always remember to move over or slow down if you see any vehicle stopped on the side of the road with flashing lights activated. Our lineworkers and their families thank you!

Scott Meinecke is the director of safety and loss control for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.

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