Posted on August 19, 2014

VIDEO: PG&E/IBEW Lineman’s Rodeo Draws More Than 1,200 Spectators

 

By Blake Sumner

LIVERMORE – Part-carnival, part-sporting event, the 3rd annual PG&E/IBEW Local 1245 Lineman’s Rodeo on Saturday (Aug. 16) drew a record crowd.

PG&E linemen Pete Billicki and Mike Devlin complete a journeyman mystery event. (Photo by Blake Sumner)

More than 1,200 spectators filled PG&E’s training facility in Livermore, excited to see which PG&E journeyman and apprentice lineworkers would be selected to represent the company and the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers at the International Lineman’s Rodeo in Kansas in October.

PG&E’s electric linemen often have to restore service to customers in isolated places, regardless of weather conditions. That wasn’t a problem, however, on the day of the rodeo as workers climbed utility poles and changed out equipment for their family and friends beneath bright blue skies.

The crews took part in various contests, including pole climbing, simulating the rescue of an injured crewman and two mystery events where they demonstrated skills and techniques used in their jobs.

Throughout the day, spectators and competitors had the opportunity to take part in kids’ activities, face-painting, vendors and a barbeque lunch. Many of the linemen brought their spouses, children and other relatives. Some, like Jacob Hunt — a general construction lineworker based out of the Central Coast — come from a family of line workers.

The event drew many families and friends, such as PG&E's Mike Wetzel and his supporters.

“I love being able to bring my sons out and give them a chance to see what I do,” says Hunt. “It feels good to have people out here to support me. My father and my grandfather were linemen, and I this will help my sons to grow a similar passion for it.”

For Greg Kiraly, the partnership with the union is significant.

“The Lineman’s Rodeo is an excellent example of the collaboration that takes place between the company and the IBEW 1245 and we couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with them to make this event spectacular,” said Kiraly, a PG&E senior vice president for Electric Distribution Operations. “This is the third year in a row that we’ve hosted this event, and it has continued to get bigger and better every year. Most importantly, it’s a great opportunity to showcase our commitment to safely and reliably serving our customers.”

Both journeyman and apprentice linemen participated in the competition.

Kiraly thanked Tom Dalzell, the business manager of IBEW Local 1245, and  Larry Kazmierski, the director of  Transmission Line General Construction “and everyone from PG&E and the IBEW Local 1245 who worked so hard to make this event such a huge success.”

For competitors like Fresno Based Jud Van Matre, the Lineman’s Rodeo is a chance to show his family, friends and the world what it means to be a lineman at PG&E.

“We’re usually working out in areas our families and friends can’t get to. I’ve been in the trade for nine years now, and this was my mom’s first time watching me climb,” says Van Matre. “People don’t always get a chance to see us work, and these rodeos are a good chance for people to see what we do every day.”

Van Matre will travel with 19 other journeyman and apprentice lineworkers from PG&E to compete in the 31st International Lineman’s Rodeo & Expo on Oct. 18 in Overland Park, Kansas.

Email Currents at currents@pge.com.

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"PG&E" refers to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation.
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