Georgia Power linemen dominate at championships

Georgia Power continued its tradition of dominance by taking the top two spots in the Investor Owned Utility portion of the sixteenth annual International Lineman’s Rodeo in Kansas City, Mo., last weekend. Georgia Power teams finished second and third in the overall results, marking the sixth straight year that the company has had representatives on the championship podium.

This year’s top Investor Owned Utility team came from Georgia Power’s Metro Southwest region. The team consisted of linemen Anthony Farris, Mark Cochran, David Miles and Coach Louie Peebles.

The second place team works in the Gwinnett region and consisted of linemen Chris Jarrard, Derek Bell, Scott Simpson and Coach Mike Bleckley.

Additionally, the Valdosta team, which includes linemen Mike McDowell, Andy Bostic, Coy Brightwell and Coach Freddie Ramsey, won first place in the Insulator Replacement event. David Heyman, an apprentice lineman in the Metro West region, won first place in the individual Slack Block event.

“The rodeo gives linemen the opportunity to show what they do every day. This is a skilled and dangerous profession, and we are very proud of these linemen,” said Jim Manley, vice-president of customer operations for Georgia Power’s Southern Region. “Once again our linemen have proven that they are first class.”

In all, five teams from Georgia Power -- some veterans and some newcomers -- competed at the Sept. 11 Lineman’s Rodeo. Georgia Power teams were among the 226 teams from around the country that competed for the right to be called the “World’s Best Linemen.” There were also 179 apprentice linemen competing in individual events.

Since the company began competing in 1991, Georgia Power teams have won four Overall Championships -- 1994, ’95, ’97 and ’98. This year’s effort matched 1996 when Georgia Power also finished second and third. Georgia Power also took third place in 1995. In addition to the overall and category victories, Georgia Power has also won numerous individual event titles over the years.

The competition consists of six timed events simulating electric utility line work. Three events are announced prior to the rodeo, and three remain a mystery until the day before the competition. Teams begin each event with 100 points and receive point deductions for errors in workmanship and safety. Other Southern Company teams from Gulf Power and Savannah Electric trained with Georgia Power in preparation for the rodeo under the guidance of the Klondike training staff. This combined effort produced a fifth place Investor Owned Utility finish for Savannah Electric. “It takes a tremendous commitment of extra time,” Mickey Brown, vice president of customer operations for North Georgia, said of Georgia Power’s rodeo effort. “These linemen devote a lot of their own time training outside the normal work hours to ensure that they are employing the best techniques and strategies to win."

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, the nation’s largest generator of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility, serving customers in 57,000 of the state’s 59,000 square miles. Georgia Power’s rates are more than 15 percent below the national average and its 1.8 million customers are in all but six of Georgia’s 159 counties.