By Blake Sumner
BONNER SPRINGS, Kan. – PG&E linemen were among the top finishers at the 30th annual International Lineman’s Rodeo held Saturday (Oct. 19) in this Kansas City suburb.
Family, friends and fellow electric crew workers chanted “Go Big Blue!” as the linemen showed off the skills that benefit PG&E customers.
“The competition today is a bunch of linemen getting together to celebrate the craft and show off their skills,” said Adam Beene, a PG&E lineman based in Grass Valley and one of the competitors. “I’m a third-generation lineman, so it means a lot for me to get to compete and represent PG&E and the IBEW 1245.”
In all, 16 linemen and apprentice linemen represented PG&E at the event. (Click here to watch a Currents video from the recent PG&E/IBEW rodeo event in Livermore.)
For PG&E, the top honors went to Grass Valley linemen Beene, Anthony Albright and Jon Paul Richard, who took fifth place out of 210 teams from around the world in the jumper cut-out mystery event. They completed this event in three minutes and one second, with no safety violations or work procedure errors. This event required competitors to focus on safety, coordination and teamwork as they used an insulated fiberglass pole, or hot stick, to simulate the replacement of an energized electrical connection between two points.
Ryan Boyd, a PG&E apprentice lineman based in Fresno, came in fifth place out of 219 competitors in the apprentice hurt-man rescue event, which simulates the rescue of an injured crew member, with a perfect score in one minute and 14 seconds. Boyd completed this event with no safety violations or work procedure errors.
Although speed is an important part of the competition, it never comes at the expense of safety.
In addition to the hurt-man rescue and jumper cut-out events, all of PG&E’s competitors were cheered on by their friends and family as they participated in events that tested their ability to quickly complete jobs using insulated rubber gloves and pole climbing while following the proper safety and work procedures.
“It feels really good to be out here watching my husband compete, because this is what they do,” said Allison McNeill, wife of Manteca lineman George McNeill. “It gives me a real sense of pride to see how good they are at the work they do to keep everybody’s power going.”
Greg Kiraly, PG&E’s senior vice president of Distribution Operations, said the teams’ performance at the rodeo shows their dedication to safety, their craft and to one another.
“These guys take their jobs very seriously,” Kiraly said. “They’re here to have fun, but they know that safety is the first thing they have to focus on here at the rodeo and back home. They’re paying attention to details and making sure that they’re doing everything exactly right — just like they do on the job.”
The rodeo is an opportunity for the competitors to show their pride for their company, union and craft, and they can’t wait to come back again next year.
“I think PG&E is one of the best utilities in the nation,” Fresno lineman Jud Van Matre said. “I believe that we’re going to continue to be a force the more we continue to hone our craft and proudly represent PG&E and the IBEW at the International Rodeo for years to come.”