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Feb. 13 editorial: The Power Behind the Power

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THE ISSUE: Challenges of electric line workers OUR VIEW: Respect them

By Patsy Whitehead

There is a lineman or linewoman behind every electric switch. Although the complexities of our electric generation, transmission and distribution system is controlled and governed by many people, it is the line worker that ultimately controls the switch to your electric service.

In recent weeks local and out-of-state electric utility line workers have experienced unbelievable challenges as they worked day and night to restore power to approximately 45,000 area homes and businesses virtually left in the dark by a brutal ice storm on Jan. 27.

Temperatures were below zero at the onset of the storm. Sub-freezing temperatures continued for several days; but nonetheless, day after day, line workers continuously worked to restore your power. These brave souls left their families hours before dawn and returned home exhausted late into the night. For many line workers, the families left behind also were left without electricity. Hundreds of line workers from other states left the comforts of their home, families and regular work schedules to come and help us.

The heavy clothing and gear worn by line workers can be a challenge in itself. But as we all learned in grade school, death is certain without this equipment when coming in contact with 7,200 volt power lines. That alone would scare any normal person away from this hazardous, undesirable occupation!

Then, as temperatures began to rise, the rain fell, making their work even more challenging. Heavy bucket and digger trucks melted into mud drenched fields and had to be pulled by bulldozers to and from repair sites. Boots worn by line workers became even heavier as clogs of mud formed around them, adding extra weight and yet another challenge to the job.

Round three…Wednesday brought winds up to 57 miles per hour. Along with the wicked winds came more power outages and a new challenge for line workers as they fought to keep their balance 50-feet in the air.

What drives these line workers? What motivates them to do this kind of work?

Certainly compassion, concern, respect for others, and extraordinary humanitarian qualities are what these linemen and linewomen possess. They exhibit all the characteristics that describe a hero!

Thanks to all the line workers for braving the challenges and bringing the power back – you have earned total respect.

- This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.