Lineworkers at Kankakee Valley REMC work hard to keep members with power

Lineworkers at Kankakee Valley REMC work hard to keep members with power
By: Beth Ireland Last Updated: April 17, 2020

In today’s world, one of the most frustrating things that can happen is to lose electric power. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all felt the sense of helplessness in waiting for the lights to come back on. While many of us want to believe that fixing a power outage is quick and easy, the truth is that it often isn’t. And the lineworkers at Kankakee Valley REMC (KV REMC) know just how challenging, but rewarding, their job of keeping our power on can be.

“I love a challenge.  When you’re all done and the team comes together—because it’s not just me, it’s the whole crew—and the lights are back on, and everyone goes home safe, that’s very satisfying,” said Ron Mann, lead lineman at KV REMC

It takes a special person to take on the job of a lineworker. Being up high on a pole, working with power lines often powered at 7,200 volts, takes dedication, hard work, and no shortage of problem-solving.

“Throughout the country, lineworkers account for less than one-tenth of one percent of the workforce.  With so few people bringing the power to more than 300 million, that’s pretty special. It takes a special person to do this. It’s not an easy job, it’s one of the most dangerous jobs, but it’s also the most satisfying. Helping people and being able to take care of an issue for them or fix an outage is so rewarding,” said Jeff Newburn, line superintendent.

“Lineworkers are hard-working, open-minded, persistent, and excellent problem-solvers,” Mann said. “Sometimes you’re out there on your own in the middle of the night, and it’s not like you have the choice to give up—you’ve got to solve the issue and get people’s lights back up.”

Solving the problem in the middle of inclement weather can take time, driving up and down the road checking the equipment and looking for the problem.  “Some people have the misconception that to bring the power back on during an outage is as easy as flipping a switch, but it takes so much more than that,” Newburn said.

At KV REMC, there’s a full crew of these unique and special workers whose hard work and dedication are proven each day. With more than 30,000 poles and thousands of miles of line to work, the crew is kept busy with routine maintenance, working to keep your power on.

And when the lights do go out, the line crew at KV REMC is ready to drop what they’re doing and work on getting them back on.

“It’s hard to walk away from a birthday party or family reunion, but the love of the job keeps me going. I love helping people and my heart is just so full when I do,” Mann said

No one enjoys being without power, especially the team at KV REMC.

“Every person who works here wants to get the lights on as safely and as quickly as possible. We take great pride in that, we don’t like people being out of power,” Newburn said.

“Be patient with us. We’re human just like everybody else. We strive to keep people’s power on, and we pride ourselves on keeping the lights on. We don’t like it when the lights go off, but it happens,” Mann said.

One of the unique tasks the line crew at KV REMC performs is to educate the community and schools on electrical safety through their high-voltage safety demonstration trailer. It’s an important part of keeping KV REMC members safe, which is a priority.

“A previous lineman once told me, ‘If I can save one person’s life from one demonstration, it’s worth it.’ I really take that to heart,” Mann said.

“As a cooperative, we are dedicated to the communities we serve, and this goes beyond the power we provide. Our linemen are often familiar figures in the community. From safety demonstrations at community events to career discussions at schools. Our employees make strong contributions to the education and safety of our communities,” KV REMC CEO, Scott Sears.

This month, utilities will celebrate Lineworker Appreciation Day.  This is a great opportunity to thank the lineworkers of the industry for their dedication to keeping the power flowing in our communities. 

“KV REMC linemen are the first responders of the cooperative. They do challenging work in all-weather conditions, at all hours. They take pride in their careers and are committed to providing our member-consumers with the highest level of service,” said Sears.

For more information on Kankakee Valley REMC, visit their website: https://www.kvremc.com/.