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Lives on the Line

Chris Meyers
General Manager
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

 

National studies have consistently ranked the lineworker profession as one of the most hazardous occupations in the market. More often than not, however, linemen are unsung heroes. We are accustomed to having electricity as a reliable service; therefore, we typically take it for granted until we don’t have it. When that happens, our linemen rise to the occasion—regardless of the circumstances—to restore power as safely and as quickly as possible.

Linemen work with thousands of volts of electricity atop power lines 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to keep electricity flowing to our homes, businesses, and communities. Theirs is a rewarding calling—that of turning the lights on—but it is not a calling free of challenges. Perhaps you have seen our linemen raising their bucket trucks in howling winds and torrential rains, or in freezing, icy conditions. When major storms or disasters take place, linemen are quick to lend a hand to neighboring co-ops that may have incurred significant damages.

Beyond the years of specialized training and apprenticeships, it takes grit, dedication and a mission-oriented outlook to be a good lineman. In fact, this service-oriented mentality is a hallmark characteristic of lineworkers.

In addition to the challenges of the trade, it is not uncommon for linemen to set aside personal priorities—such as holidays or family events—to serve their community when the power goes out. A lineman’s reliance on a strong support system at home is crucial. A lineworker’s family understands and supports their loved one’s commitment to the greater community during severe storms and extended power outages.

Given their honorable attributes and service, Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives—along with co-ops from across the nation—are proud to recognize the second Monday of April as “National Lineworker Appreciation Day.” We are pleased to join in this celebration and recognize the brave men and women who power our lives. We extend our gratitude to their families for supporting their lineman in this special calling. Please join us in showing appreciation to every co-op lineman in our communities as well as to their families. Thank you for keeping the lights on. OKL Article End

 

The power of togetherness

Tim Smith
President
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

 

During the last 12 months, I have had the distinct privilege of serving as Board President for the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives, the service organization that represents Oklahoma’s 30 electric cooperative member-systems. The opportunity to serve in this capacity allowed me to observe the strength of the cooperative network with a closer eye.

In this role, I witnessed even more vividly the cooperative spirit, and the real-life application of one of our core principles, “Cooperation among Cooperatives.” Having served in the industry for nearly 25 years, I was already aware of the support co-ops provide to each other and how they stand in the gap for one another, but in the last year I was fortunate to witness this support firsthand on various occasions.

Every co-op member-system experiences successes and challenges in their ongoing mission of serving their member-owners. From storm recovery that calls for mutual aid among cooperatives to pioneering in the realm of offering rural broadband to members, co-ops are constantly learning from each other, sharing best practices and lending a hand to one another. When we look back, we are actually emulating those who came before us, the electric cooperative pioneers who banded together to form co-ops and bring a higher quality of life to those they serve. As co-op leaders, our goal is to press forward and continue to build a strong foundation for future generations. OKL Article End

As members of electric cooperatives, we are fortunate to be a part of a business model that is member driven and community focused. We have been blessed with many resources in this great nation, and we are honored to have been given the opportunity to pay it forward. In another display of unity and cooperation, our co-ops are coming together to take the rural electrification model to developing nations and help far-away villages turn the lights on for the first time. This caring, member-focused commitment is what makes electric cooperatives special. It’s the cooperative difference that sets co-ops apart from other types of utilities.

It has been an honor to serve as Board President this past year; I feel confident the leaders to come will continue to strengthen the cooperative network by powering lives and empowering communities. OKL Article End