A Special Thanks to Our Nation’s Lineworkers For Helping Us Power Through Together
- Jul 10, 2020 1:45 am GMT
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The following was co-authored by Lonnie Stephenson and Tom Kuhn
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt much of our nation, we remain grateful for the health care, food supply, and transportation workers who are essential to keeping us safe and our economy running. We also are thankful for the men and women of the electric power industry who are on the front lines working tirelessly around the clock—and often behind the scenes—to make sure our hospitals, grocery stores, distribution centers, and homes all have access to the energy we rely on to power our lives.
America’s lineworkers deserve to be recognized for their work during this crisis, and for the work they do every single day. On this National Lineworker Appreciation Day, the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI’s) member companies--America’s investor-owned electric companies—and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), whose members make up much of the industry’s workforce, join together to salute them.
We are proud of the nearly 75,000 highly skilled lineworkers who make the delivery of safe, reliable, and affordable electricity possible. As our nation’s electric companies implement plans to make the energy grid smarter, stronger, cleaner, more reliable, and more secure, these are the workers turning those plans into reality. And, when storms or other natural disasters strike, we count on lineworkers to mobilize quickly, and to restore power safely and efficiently. They do this not only because it is what their job requires, but because it is what the customers and communities whom they serve entrust them to do.
Much of the work done by lineworkers is inherently dangerous, making safety the highest priority. This year, as a result of the pandemic and what many predict will be active hurricane and wildfire seasons, safety is more important and more challenging than ever. Lineworkers now have to do their work while wearing additional personal protective equipment, socially distancing, and taking a range of other precautions designed to help keep them safe and to protect others.
To support our lineworkers, IBEW and EEI member companies have a longstanding partnership dedicated to supporting our workforce today and building our workforce for tomorrow. Together, we are focused on ensuring electrical workers receive best-in-class training to do their jobs and to make it possible for them to come together quickly and effectively when the need requires.
Member companies also have implemented a range of programs to develop a workforce pipeline that reflects the diversity of the communities we serve and brings the skills necessary to make an impact. By continuing to advance and enhance diversity and inclusion initiatives, we are creating new job opportunities for underrepresented populations, including the Black community. We also are helping ensure that those who want to work in our industry can develop the skills they need to succeed.
As we continue to see concerning trends in the spread of the coronavirus around the country, our industry remains committed to doing our part to keep our employees and our customers safe. We cannot fully restart our economy or return to any type of normalcy until we are able to control the spread of this virus. Our companies follow guidance from federal, state, and local health officials on personal hygiene, social distancing, and, most important, the use of masks or face coverings, and we encourage you to do the same. If you see our crews or lineworkers in the field, it is important that you do not approach them and stay at least six feet away for their safety, as well as your own.
We know that electricity and the grid are indispensable in our society, and our nation is relying on the essential work of our lineworkers during this pandemic. Please join us in celebrating National Lineworker Appreciation Day on July 10 and in thanking them for helping us all to power through together.
Lonnie Stephenson is the International President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Tom Kuhn is president of the Edison Electric Institute, the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies.