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Commentary We honor our co-op lineworkers I


Chris Meyers General Manager, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


n 2015, the National Rural Electric Coop- erative Association designated the second


Monday of April of each year as “National Line- worker Appreciation Day.” It is fi tting that we have a selected day to honor these unsung heroes in our com-


munities. However, we owe these brave men and women our gratitude every day of the year. The lineworker profession has been deemed one of the most dangerous jobs in the market— and, it’s no wonder. Lineworkers work with thou- sands of volts of electricity atop powerlines 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to keep electricity fl owing and maintaining the energy infrastruc- ture we have to power this great nation. They put their lives on the line to keep the lights on, no matter the day or the hour. They have missed holidays, birthdays and special family occasions to ensure we have reliable and safe electricity. Lineworkers work in brutal weather conditions


and oftentimes serve as fi rst responders during storms and other catastrophic events, working to make the scene safe for other public safety offi - cers. These resilient men and women regularly labor in the Oklahoma wind; they brave rain, ice, snow, and the summer heat. Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives employ ap- proximately 750 lineworkers who maintain more than 116,500 miles of distribution line. To ensure each lineworker returns home safely at the end of the day, it is vital that electric cooperatives maintain a strong culture of safety for line crews. The Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives’ Safety and Loss Control Department works with each cooperative in the state and holds approximately 15 training schools and conferences annually. Additionally, the de- partment provides safety visits to cooperative member-systems to ensure compliance and crew inspections. For electric cooperatives, safety is a priority. Next time you see a lineworker in your community, make sure you express your appre- ciation for all that they do to keep the lights on.


Carrying on the cooperative legacy W


Scott Copeland President, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives


hat an honor it has been to serve the past four years as


an offi cer on the OAEC board of trustees. The past 12 months as president have been particularly ful- fi lling and allowed me to come to an even greater


appreciation of the rural electrifi cation program. With this last article, I want to leave you with some thoughts.


From their humble beginnings over 80 years ago, electric co-ops have grown exponentially providing electricity to an estimated 42 million people in 47 states. To put it in perspective, in 1935 only 10 percent of rural America had access to electricity. Today’s nearly 900 electric co-ops: Own and maintain 2.6 million miles, or 42 percent, of the nation’s electric distribution lines; Deliver 11 percent of the total kilowatt hours sold in the U.S. each year; Employ 72,000 people in the U.S.; Retire over $800 million in capital credits


annually. The cooperative business model has been called the most successful public/private partner- ship in the history of our country and it is used


4 WWW.OKL.COOP


as a model around the world. This program is the result of the hard work of thousands of individ- uals who overcame the challenges of having pow- er in rural areas. The electrifi cation of America’s countryside was against all odds, yet here it stands today—and the mission is not over. In fact, although the challenges have changed over the years, they are as daunting as ever. How will we answer those challenges? Can we carry on the legacy established by our pioneers? Will we be as tough, determined, and innovative as our ancestors? I believe we will. What can we do to ensure that our future as rural Americans is as bright as possible? The most important thing you can do is to take an active role in your coop- erative. Communicate with and support your local co-op leaders and management. Don’t just complain when you are unhappy; instead, be a part of the solution. Cooperatives are recognized as leaders and innovators because we respond to the needs of our member-owners. Your input is critical to the future success of your cooperative. Again, it has been a pleasure to communicate with you each month through these columns in Oklahoma Living. I have been blessed by this ex- perience. My prayer is that God will continue to bless each of you and your families, our cooper- atives, and the great country we live in.


Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives www.oaec.coop


Chris Meyers, General Manager Scott Copeland, President Larry Hicks, Vice-President Tim Smith, Secretary Brent Bacon, Treasurer


Staff


Sid Sperry, Director of PR & Communications sksperry@oaec.coop


Anna Politano, Editor editor@okl.coop


Hayley Leatherwood, Multimedia Specialist hleatherwood@okl.coop


Shannen McCroskey, Marketing Specialist smccroskey@okl.coop


Kirbi Mills, Director of Admin. Services kmills@oaec.coop


Hillary Barrow, Admin. Services Assistant hbarrow@oaec.coop


Miguel Rios, Editorial Intern intern@okl.coop


Editorial, Advertising and General Offi ces P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154 Phone (405) 478-1455


Oklahoma Living online: www.okl.coop Subscriptions


$3.48 per year for rural electric cooperative members.


$7 per year for non-members. Cooperative Members: Report change of


address to your local rural electric cooperative. Non-Cooperative Members: Send address


changes to Oklahoma Living, P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309.


Oklahoma Living (ISSN 1064-8968),


USPS 407-040, is published monthly for consumer-members of Oklahoma’s rural electric cooperatives by the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives, 2325 E. I-44 Service Road, P.O. Box 54309, Oklahoma City, OK 73154-1309.


Circulation this issue: 325,568


Periodical postage paid at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS.


The Oklahoma Association of Electric


Cooperatives is a statewide service organization for the following electric cooperatives: Alfalfa, Arkansas Valley, Canadian Valley, Central,


Choctaw, Cimarron, CKenergy, Cookson Hills, Cotton, East Central Oklahoma, Harmon, Indian, KAMO Power, Kay, Kiamichi, Lake Region, Northeast Oklahoma, Northfork, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Ozarks, People’s,


Red River Valley, Rural, Southeastern, Southwest Rural, Tri-County, Verdigris Valley, and Western Farmers Electric Cooperative.


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