By Kent Singer
As I write this column in early January, the first regular session of the 74th Colorado General Assembly is about to get underway. The speaker of the house, the president of the senate and the governor will all make speeches about their legislative priorities and goals for the session. The CREA government relations team will be there, closely following the activities of the legislature to protect the interests of Colorado’s electric co-ops.
One of CREA’s legislative priorities this session will be to ask the general assembly to recognize the essential work done by Colorado’s electric lineworkers. This is not a request to adopt any new legislative policy or program, but rather a request for an official legislative resolution honoring lineworkers. We will make this request on behalf of lineworkers employed by all utilities as well as contract lineworkers, not just electric co-op employees. We will ask that the recognition be done in conjunction with National Lineworker Day in April.
The hundreds of lineworkers who keep the lights on in Colorado deserve recognition, not only by our legislature and governor, but also by every citizen of the state whose life is made better by access to electric service. We take for granted that the lights will come on and our computers will hum every hour of every day without giving much thought to how electricity is generated and delivered. The fact is that the delivery of electricity depends on the efforts of lineworkers who work 24/7/365 to build, monitor and repair the poles and wires that bring electricity to our homes and businesses.
Lineworkers do hard, technical, physically demanding and potentially dangerous work. Especially during the winter months, lineworkers in Colorado do this work in the harshest of conditions. This winter, lineworkers in Colorado have faced near-arctic conditions as the temperatures have dropped to record lows in parts of the state. In some cases, lineworkers access facilities in snowmobiles given their remote location in deep snow. Despite these challenges, lineworkers keep the power grid up and running to make sure Colorado residents have all the comforts that electricity provides.
From time to time, we are reminded of the element of danger that is involved in linework by tragic incidents that happen around the country. Just this past December, two days before Christmas, a young co-op apprentice lineman in Ohio lost his life while working to restore power for the co-op’s consumer-members. While these incidents are rare, they are a sober reminder that the men and women working on the lines are exposed to dangers that make their job that much more difficult.
CREA employs a team of safety professionals who work with co-op line crews to supplement the safety programs at each co-op. Our safety team is composed of folks with many years of lineworker experience and our goal is to do everything we can to eliminate incidents and accidents that can occur in this work.
Our electric co-ops take this obligation to their line crews very seriously. Safety is literally job No.1 at every co-op.
By sponsoring a resolution honoring utility and contract lineworkers, CREA hopes to bring attention to the essential work done by these Colorado heroes. We hope that by doing so, our legislature and all Colorado citizens will take a moment or two to appreciate and thank all lineworkers for the critical service they provide to Colorado.
Kent Singer is the executive director of CREA and offers a statewide perspective on issues affecting electric cooperatives. CREA is the trade association for 21 Colorado electric distribution co-ops and one power supply co-op.