They came from all over the country to compete in a very special rodeo last weekend in Oklahoma.
Okay, that may not sound like big news, especially considering the popularity of rodeo in our state.
However, this time it was another electric lineworker rodeo, which meant the events included things like hurtman rescue and amp switch replacement instead of steer wrestling or barrel racing.
Last September, we wrote about a similar rodeo, involving teams from electric utilities all across the state. This time though, the competition field was a little larger and included teams from all across the country. In fact, it was the first time that the American Public Power Association (APPA) has held the national “Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo” in Oklahoma. Edmond Electric (the municipally-owned electric utility in Edmond, Oklahoma) served as host for the rodeo, while the Grand River Dam Authority, along with the Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma (MESO) and the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority (OMPA) partnered together to help bring the event to the state.
A lineworker rodeo is an opportunity for crews from diverse locations and backgrounds to come together and put their job skills to the test, but, more importantly, it is an opportunity to share experiences, techniques and promote safety for a career that often involves working with high voltage in adverse weather conditions. Because this event was a “public power” rodeo, all crews involved work for customer-owned, customer-controlled electric utilities like GRDA and the many Oklahoma communities its supplies with wholesale electricity.
Of course, GRDA was well represented, both by staffers who helped make the event possible and by GRDA competitors, who were there to put their skills to the test. We are proud of all those who took part in this special event that not only promotes the work of many of our employees but also promotes the importance of public power across the United States. Today, GRDA is one of roughly 2,000 publicly-owned electric utilities, serving more than 47 million people. While some of the nation’s largest cities - Los Angeles, San Antonio, Seattle and Orlando - are public power, many municipally-owned systems are found in small towns, serving 3,000 or fewer electric meters.
However, at events like the APPA Lineworker Rodeo, they all come together as one, to compete, to learn and to stay informed of the latest tools and techniques to help maintain public power’s reputation of low-cost, reliable, customer-focused service.
Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. GRDA’s low-cost, reliable power touches 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.