Wiregrass Electric Cooperative (WEC) celebrates employees on Lineman Appreciation Day
Journeyman lineman Britt Caldwell has worked for several companies, and the 8-year WEC employee knows which one he loves most.
“Wiregrass is by far the best company that I’ve ever worked for,” he says. “They make sure we have the tools we need. If we’re ever lacking anything, we can talk to somebody, and they’ll get it taken care of. They try their best to take care of us.”
An example of WEC’s commitment to its employees came in early June with a luncheon commemorating Lineman Appreciation Day. The Alabama Legislature has declared the first Monday of every June a day to celebrate linemen for their contributions to society.
Their trade requires a lot of knowledge, skill, and a willingness to work all hours in emergency situations, says Jason Thrash, WEC Vice President of Engineering and Operations.
“We’re thankful to have excellent elected officials like state Sen. Donnie Chesteen and state Rep. Paul Lee, who helped establish Alabama’s Lineman Appreciation Day,” says WEC Chief Operating Officer Brad Kimbro. “Without the dedicated efforts of lineworkers everywhere and all of our employees, power outages would last eternally. We’re blessed to have local legislators who understand that lineworkers’ efforts need to be celebrated by all. We appreciate them passing a resolution to honor Alabama's Lineman across the state.”
While storm responses can last several hours or days, the challenging situations often create the most rewarding memories for a lineworker, Caldwell says.
“One of the things I enjoy the most is going out in storms and restoring power to people who have been without power for days. It brings joy to you,” he says. “You feel like you’re helping someone. Every time we go, people are always bringing us food or drinks, especially kids. It’s always an honor to help out.”
Given the dangers and complexities of electricity, Thrash notes it takes about six years of training before lineworkers can lead projects. Lineworkers also continuously learn more as power providers implement new technologies that improve the electrical grid’s reliability.
“They’ve got to be very knowledgeable, or those hazards they face will be magnified,” Thrash says. “We’re being proactive with technology. We’re putting things out there that make the system safer and more efficient and more reliable. That’s a good ongoing learning curve for our linemen.”
WEC leaders also recognized the contributions of other employees with the luncheon.
“Here at Wiregrass we appreciate all of our employees,” Thrash says. “It just happens to be a day set aside for all of our linemen, but we do take the opportunity to thank our other employees. It takes all of us doing our jobs to support the linemen.”