By David Kligman
Despite a steady downpour, PG&E and the IBEW Local 1245 successfully competed for the first time in 15 years in the International Lineman’s Rodeo this past weekend.
The competition Saturday (Oct. 13) in Bonner Springs, Kan., pitted 200 utility teams from throughout the United States as well as teams from Great Britain, Jamaica, Brazil and Canada. [See a video of PG&E line workers preparing for the event.]
Three of PG&E’s four teams finished with near-perfect marks: 398 out of 400. The top finish for the utility was Salinas apprentice lineman Keenan Curtis, who was 11th out of 194 competitors in an event testing CPR skills.
George McNeil, a Manteca-based lineman, said it was inspiring to compete having the in-person encouragement from PG&E’s top electric leaders who traveled to Kansas, including Geisha Williams (executive vice president of electric operations), Greg Kiraly (senior vice president of electric distribution operations) and Gregg Lemler (electric maintenance and construction senior director). Tom Dalzell, the business manager for IBEW Local 1245, also attended the event.
“We had total support from our executive management team,” said McNeil, a 30-year PG&E employee. “They were out there watching us all day long standing in the rain. I heard a number of people say they wish they worked for a team like ours, mainly because of the backing they get from management.”
The teams competed by speed climbing a pole, rescuing a mannequin from the top of a pole and using rubber gloves to replace a cross arm.
McNeil said PG&E’s participants were slowed a little because they were still getting used to using new fall restraint equipment that protects climbers from falling should they slip. One of the PG&E teams lost two points for finishing 16 seconds over the time limit.
However, PG&E’s objective from the start was to ensure safety, not speed.
“I think that represents our goal of safety,” said Jim McAdams, PG&E distribution operations manager. “And quite frankly that’s what this rodeo is all about. We did phenomenal considering we haven’t done this in 15 years.”
Email David Kligman at David.Kligman@pge.com.