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Life as a Lineman

By Shay Reed — a crew leader at Statesville-based EnergyUnited.

This article was originally published in the April 2018 issue of Carolina County, the monthly magazine of North Carolina’s electric cooperatives.

When I became a lineman in 1995, I was blessed to learn from a crew leader and coworkers who taught me good work habits in regards to safety and how to get the job done. Those same work ethics have followed me my whole career. I never wanted to let them down.

I also began to understand how important it was to always look out for my fellow linemen. They always watched my back, and I wanted to be there for them. This same relationship is why we all get out of bed at 3 a.m. to respond to an outage or any other need. I know that when I call, someone will help me, and I want to extend the same to my co-workers. This is how a co-op lineman is born. We understand that the same people we live with in the community depend on us to be there when we are needed.

North Carolina has 26 electric cooperatives, and all electric co-op lineworkers share this same characteristic.

Electric co-op linemen see all kinds of weather. We respond after hurricanes, ice and snow storms, tornadoes, or whatever comes our way. We know if our own area has been affected by major storms, other co-ops will respond to help us. This is just how it works. I have made many friends from other co-ops through our mutual aid agreement.

Contributing to our success is North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives’ Job Training & Safety team and its training facility at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount. Linemen are trained from very basic skills to the most advanced. Courses provide a benchmark to ensure all linemen are being trained the same, and create an environment where linemen will work well together when the need arises, with standardized safety rules and construction designs.

I have attended courses at the facility, and I have been very fortunate to help instruct others in overhead line construction through the program for the last several years. I got to teach with some of the same instructors I had learned from. These folks are some of the best linemen I have had the pleasure to meet and work with, and the training programs are second to none.

Our members are very important to us. We want to keep their lights on as well as their costs down. Technology has grown leaps and bounds in my career, but we have embraced it and found it to be more efficient.

I recently received my 25-year service award at EnergyUnited, and I look forward to what the future holds in a career that I love! I am proud to call myself a Lineman.