Keeping the lights on is often taken for granted, but not today

Those who climb high and risk all to keep the power on are getting their day today. But, typically, many of them are doing something for others to celebrate it.

Tuesday marks the sixth annual National Lineman Appreciation Day. The hashtag #thankalineman is all over Twitter, with utilities such as Duke Energy, Mississippi Power and Ameren Corp.  giving their social media shout-out to the men and women who scale the heights and dig the holes to ensure our electricity flows safely.

This day might honor them, but many line workers were using it to help others. Duke Energy line workers were volunteering at UNC Rex HealthCare, the University of North Carolina medical system that has hospitals and clinics throughout that region. Other Duke line workers were reading to children at the Meyer Center for Special Children in Greenville, South Carolina.

Earlier this month, Georgia Power announced a new initiative statewide to celebrate the men and women who work on the front lines of the utility grid. All of April is Lineman Appreciation Month in Georgia, and the state’s lawmakers passed House Bill 260, which will create a specialty vehicle license plate to honor them. 

Some confusion reigns as to the date of National Lineman Appreciation Day, and you can blame Washington D.C. for that, as usual. Some cite it as April 10, while more circled today, Tuesday, as the official calendar day.

Here’s the story, according to The day was first recognized on April 10, 2013, by the U.S. Senate. The website cites it as April 18. The resolution reads:

“Recognizing linemen, the profession of linemen, the contributions of these brave men and women who protect public safety, and expressing support for the designation of April 18, 2013, as National Lineman Appreciation Day. Whereas the profession of linemen is steeped in personal, family, and professional tradition; Whereas linemen are often first responders during storms and other catastrophic events, working to make the scene safe for other public safety heroes; Whereas linemen work with thousands of volts of electricity high atop power lines 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to keep electricity flowing; Whereas linemen must often work under dangerous conditions far from their families to construct and maintain the energy infrastructure of the United States; Whereas linemen put their lives on the line every day with little recognition from the community regarding the danger of their work; and Whereas April 18, 2013, would be an appropriate date to designate as National Lineman Appreciation Day: Now, therefore, be it that the Senate—(1) recognizes the efforts of linemen in keeping the power on and protecting public safety; and (2) supports the designation of April 18, 2013, as National Lineman Appreciation Day.”

So there you have it. National Lineman Appreciation Day was resolved on April 10 and designated for April 18 from 2013 forward.

One thing is not disputable. Line workers do some of the most dangerous work today. They deal with energized lines which are down, fire hazards and all manner of dangerous voltage.

Statistics from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration shows line workers dying or injured from accidents far too many times. The causes of death include electrocution, pole fracture and falls, among others. Other statistics also show dozens killed or injured annually.

All of us at POWERGRID International and Electric Light & Power have covered these line worker stories for years. We know the danger is real, and the courage and commitment are even more obvious.  

So we’d like to wish all of the utility line workers a happy National Appreciation Day. Thank you and may God bless and keep you safe.

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