Brighten the Day: Thank a lineworker
By Rob McGarrah
Special to the Outlook
The breeze picks up as the bright sunlight begins to dim. A slow rumble fills the air as neighbors hurry inside, hoping to beat the coming onslaught of rain that is characteristic of Florida summers. A growing groan precedes a loud boom as a waterlogged limb crashes down, bringing darkness.
While most residents have taken cover, the dedicated employees of the City of Tallahassee Electric Utility Power Delivery Division are headed out to brave the elements. Knowing our neighbors are in need, crews will safely work until every customer is restored.
Our city is our home, and rain or shine, sweltering heat or freezing cold, the dedicated professionals who serve as line workers, substation electricians, meter technicians, and relay technicians show their heart for this community every day as they work to keep our grid strong. They know the feeling of kids getting restless in a quiet house and worrying about an older parent sitting alone in the dark when the power is out. They know because their families are experiencing it, too.
Last September, our state stared down and survived the strongest storm on record in the Atlantic basin. Hurricane Irma touched nearly every inch of Florida. In comparison, Tallahassee took only a small part of her fury, though it was enough to cause thousands of outages. Electric crews were prepared and had our community brimming with power again quickly. Then, as swiftly as they had geared up to aid our community, many team members regrouped and hit the road to provide aid to other Florida communities.
Then the call came. Fellow Americans in the U.S. Virgin Islands needed support. From Thanksgiving into the new year, multiple City crews left their families and aided in rebuilding the electric system in St. Croix.
This dedication to serving the community recently earned the City’s Electric Utility a Mutual Aid Commendation from the American Public Power Association, and it is one of the reasons why the Florida Cabinet recently recognized public power workers from across the state, including those with the City of Tallahassee. Public power utilities serve about 25 percent of Florida’s population, and data show that municipal utilities have, on average, faster response times than private utility companies. Receiving this recognition from the Florida Cabinet speaks to the value provided by public power utilities. Soon, we will all have a chance to recognize the men and women who have made the lines their life’s work.
Sunday, August 26, is Lineworker Appreciation Day. From middle-of-the-night responses for outages to engineering redundancies into the system for enhanced reliability, the expertise of our City Electric Team should make us all proud. With an unwavering focus on safety, they work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to power Tallahassee, and when our neighbors need help, as they did last year, our crews are the first to say yes to a mutual aid deployment.
For crews, the ultimate success is sending everyone home to their families at the end of the day, with lights shining and air conditioners humming along. Sometimes, though, mother nature has other plans. The next time you hear the rolling thunder as the heavens let loose a torrent that leaves you in the dark, remember the men and women who are out climbing poles and hoisting wires and say a little thanks. They won’t leave until the electricity is once again flowing smoothly from the generating station directly to your fingertips.