Competition and cooperation at the public power rodeo

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

Presenting the colors … Lineworkers from several different Oklahoma public power electric departments participate in opening ceremonies at the recent Oklahoma Lineworker’s Rodeo, held in Edmond on September 26.

Presenting the colors … Lineworkers from several different Oklahoma public power electric departments participate in opening ceremonies at the recent Oklahoma Lineworker’s Rodeo, held in Edmond on September 26.

It was rodeo time in Edmond last week … but not the kind you typically think of in Oklahoma.

Actually, it was “lineworker’s rodeo” time, and the Grand River Dam Authority was there to participate. A lineworker rodeo is an event that allows the men and women who maintain electric power lines to put their skills to the test against the clock and against each other. They climb poles, splice damaged lines, change fuses, conduct simulated “hurt man” rescue operations and work together.

And really, it is that last thing – working together – that makes such events so important for Oklahoma.

Participants from public power utilities all across the state gathered together for the event, which was actually the Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma (MESO) Lineworker’s Rodeo. Of course, public power utilities are owned by the customers they serve, allowing for local control, not-for-profit rates and local resources that match local needs. However, when Oklahoma weather gets ugly – tornados, ice storms, flooding, etc. – those small local systems can be hit hard and often that means the job of rebuilding, replacement and repairs is accomplished with the help of other public power crews in the state.

In fact, the very first event at the rodeo was called “mutual aid” and it required teams, made of up lineworkers form different utilities, to cooperate on an effort to repair a downed distribution line. It was a timed event, with winners being recognized, but the real goal – cooperation – was achieved by all participants.

“As they do their jobs, especially in times of disaster, they have to respond and help each other out,” said MESO General Manager Tom Rider. “So this event lets them meet together and work together.”

Like all the rest, Team GRDA was proud to be a part of this type of competition that leads to greater cooperation. In fact, being “responsive to the interests and concerns of public power users, the communities we affect and the people of the state of Oklahoma” is a key part of the overall GRDA mission.

Events like last week’s rodeo can help GRDA meet that mission.

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; electricity – produced by that diverse and beneficial mixture of coal, hydroelectric, gas and wind resources – 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.

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