This past weekend marked a time of honor and celebration for Florida public power communities and for lineworkers from across the Sunshine State. On Saturday, at the 19th annual Florida Lineman Competition banquet, the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) recognized the lineworkers who won the competition, as well as public power communities for their commitment to worker safety and mutual aid efforts during post-hurricane restoration efforts.
“It was such as pleasure to shine a bright spotlight on all the things that make public power special. During this evening of recognition, we were able to announce the winners of the Florida Lineman Competition and also present accolades to our public power community members whose standards of excellence and commitment to service are unparalleled,” said Amy Zubaly, FMEA Executive Director. “Congratulations to all our winners and award recipients.”
Florida Lineman Competition
During the Florida Lineman Competition, lineworkers put their skills to the test performing tasks they encounter in real-world scenarios. Competitors were tasked with replacing cross arm beams and lightning arresters to relocating transformers to a simulation of rescuing an injured lineworker. Competitors earned points for completing the tasks as quickly as possible and lost points if safety standards and proper work practices were not followed. Journeymen teams, which include at least one lineworker who has been in the industry for five years or more, are made up of three lineworkers. Apprentices, or lineworkers in training, compete individually.
This year, the Overall Journeyman Team Winners Cup went to Matt Hickey, Dave Poncher and Damian Stewart of Clay Electric Cooperative. Taking home the Overall Apprentice Award was Justin Dickerson from Gainesville Regional Utilities. More than 155 lineworkers competed, including teams and apprentices from Tallahassee, JEA (Jacksonville), Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), Beaches Energy Services (Jacksonville Beach), Lakeland Electric, Kissimmee Utility Authority (KUA), Fort Pierce Utilities Authority and Ocala Electric Utility, as well competitors from Talquin Electric Cooperative, Clay Electric Cooperative, and as far away as Colorado Springs, CO.
Restoring Communities Awards
The Restoring Communities Awards are presented to public power utilities that either provided or received mutual aid assistance to rebuild and restore power systems following the devastating Hurricanes Florence and Michael of 2018. Following Hurricane Michael, 600 public power lineworkers from 16 states, including Florida, answered the call for assistance in northwest Florida. Approximately 150 of Florida’s public power lineworkers travelled to South Carolina earlier in the year to provide mutual aid after Hurricane Florence.
This year’s Restoring Communities Awards were sponsored by ENCO Utility Services, a provider of fully bundled retail electric distribution services and leader in serving local governments and municipal agencies.
“We are proud to sponsor this award to recognize the utility men and women who respond to emergencies and work tirelessly to restore service even when it means working through very extreme weather conditions at all hours of the day and night,” said Ruby M. Irigoyen, Senior Vice President of ENCO Customer Services, ENCO Utility Services.
The following 23 communities were recognized with Restoring Communities Awards:
- City of Alachua
- City of Bartow
- City of Blountstown
- City of Bushnell
- City of Chattahoochee
- City of Clewiston
- Fort Pierce Utilities Authority
- Gainesville Regional Utilities
- Town of Havana
- Homestead Public Services
- Beaches Energy Services
- Keys Energy Services
- Kissimmee Utility Authority
- Lakeland Electric
- City of Leesburg
- City of Mount Dora
- Utilities Commission of New Smyrna Beach
- Ocala Electric Utility
- Orlando Utilities Commission
- City of Quincy
- City of Tallahassee
- City of Wauchula
As practitioners of a dangerous profession, Florida lineworkers and power crews place themselves at risk of receiving serious or fatal injuries while providing affordable and reliable power. For this reason, public power communities across the state emphasize the importance of safety training. FMEA recognizes and rewards safe operations through its annual Safety Awards. Utilities are placed into categories based on their total man-hours worked and rewarded for the most incident-free records. The incidence rate used to judge utilities was based on the number of work-related reportable injuries or illnesses compared to the total number of worker-hours during 2018, as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The following utilities were presented with a Safety Award in their category:
Category A (0-59,999 man-hours):
City of Alachua – perfect record
City of Blountstown – perfect record
City of Bushnell – perfect record
City of Newberry – perfect record
City of Mount Dora – perfect record
Town of Havana – perfect record
City of Chattahoochee – 2nd place
Category B (60,000-199,999 man-hours):
Beaches Energy Services – 1st place
Homestead Public Services – 2nd place
Utilities Commission of New Smyrna Beach – 3rd place
Category C (200,000-399,999 man-hours):
Keys Energy Services – perfect record
Ocala Electric Utility – 2nd place
Category D (400,000-949,999 man-hours):
City of Tallahassee – 1st place
Gainesville Regional Utilities – 2nd place
Kissimmee Utility Authority – 3rd place
Category E (950,000-2,499,999 man-hours):
Lakeland Electric – 1st place
Orlando Utilities Commission – 2nd place
Category G (2,500,000-greater man-hours):
JEA – special recognition
Florida’s public power utilities are locally owned, locally controlled and locally operated, enabling them to quickly respond to the needs of their communities. They are also among some of the most affordable and reliable power providers in the state.
For more information on FMEA and Florida’s public power communities, please visit www.publicpower.com.
The Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) represents the unified interests of 33 public power communities across the state, which provide electricity to more than 3 million of Florida’s residential and business consumers.