ATLANTA, April 3, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The electric utilities in Georgia have once again designated April as Lineman Appreciation Month to honor the men and women who restore and maintain electric service in a safe, timely manner, in every community, rain or shine.
This year, Lineman Appreciation Month is particularly meaningful: during the 2017 legislative session, Georgia lawmakers passed HB 260, legislation that creates a specialty vehicle license plate to honor linemen. Proceeds from the plates will benefit the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation which provides assistance to families of burn patients at the JMS Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta. An event will be held late this summer to reveal the new license plate. (Details will be provided in the weeks ahead after the legislation is signed by the governor.)
The notion of lineman appreciation began several years ago as a national one-day celebration. However, over time, Georgia utilities expanded the celebration to take place over the course of one month rather than one day. Doing so allows electric membership cooperatives (EMCs), Electric Cities of Georgia, Georgia Power, MEAG Power, and municipal systems to celebrate within their local communities at a date and time suitable for each provider.
Celebrations for linemen and an emphasis on their professions have grown. Keeping the lights on has become essential since consumers rely so heavily on electricity to support their everyday lives--heating and cooling, cooking, entertainment (think TVs, computers/laptops/tablets/mobile phones), lighting, water heating (think warm showers and clothes washing) and refrigeration, to name a few.
Earlier this year, linemen and their honorable careers were on display when a three-day outbreak of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes slammed many parts of Georgia and caused extensive damage and destruction in south Georgia. Thousands of customers were left in the dark. In areas where homes, businesses and other structures were destroyed, local crews and crews from across the state worked in the region up to two weeks until all power was restored.
For these selfless acts and others throughout the year, utilities encourage consumers and businesses to send a word of thanks and gratitude to line workers via social media using hash tag #ThankALineman.
Last year, EMCs, investor-owned and municipal systems held a Lineman Appreciation Day event at the state capitol in which Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 767, a new law which provides added protection for utility linemen. The legislation requires any motorist approaching utility linemen at an active work site, as indicated by traffic cones or flashing yellow, amber, white or red lights, to change lanes or reduce their speed to a reasonable and proper speed below the posted speed limit.
Any motorist who does not change lanes or drop his/her speed to avoid the utility workers can be fined up to $250 per incident. The law, which became effective July 1, 2016, applies to all types of utility workers, including electric, natural gas, cable and telecommunications workers, right-of-way crews or utility contractors.
Recently, lawmakers gave an additional nod to linemen when Gov. Nathan Deal introduced a proclamation and the Georgia State House and Senate introduced two companion resolutions to commend Georgia's linemen for dedicated service and to recognize April 2017 as Lineman Appreciation Month. Each can be read in its entirety:
Gov. Nathan Deal's Proclamation:
SR 323 sponsored by Senator Rick Jeffares (R-McDonough) and others –
HR 496 sponsored by Representative Don Parsons (R-Marietta) and others –
Electric Cities of Georgia (ECG) provides strategic and technical services to communities with utility operations. Our services are designed to maximize the performance of their utilities and, to a greater extent, create successful communities with economic prosperity and opportunity. We provide services in operations, facilitation of mutual aid contracts for storm restoration, sales and marketing, business analysis, organizational development and economic development.
Georgia EMC is the statewide trade association representing the state's 41 EMCs, Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia Transmission Corp. and Georgia System Operations Corp. Collectively, Georgia's customer-owned EMCs provide electricity and related services to 4.4 million people, nearly half of Georgia's population, across 73 percent of the state's land area.
Georgia Power is the largest electric subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), America's premier energy company. Value, Reliability, Customer Service and Stewardship are the cornerstones of the company's promise to 2.5 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties. Committed to delivering clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy at rates below the national average, Georgia Power maintains a diverse, innovative generation mix that includes nuclear, 21st century coal and natural gas, as well as renewables such as solar, hydroelectric and wind. Georgia Power focuses on delivering world-class service to its customers every day and the company is consistently recognized by J.D. Power and Associates as an industry leader in customer satisfaction.
The Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power) is a public generation and transmission organization providing wholesale power to 49 Georgia communities with annual electric sales of $643 million and 10.5 million megawatt-hours of delivered energy in 2015.
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SOURCE Georgia EMC