Not being a huge utility with virtually unlimited resources, Blue Grass Energy Cooperative requires its linemen to wear many hats. Blue Grass, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, is located in the heart of Central Kentucky and serves 55,000 customers in 23 Kentucky counties.
Juggling the many hats of our so-called “day” job with our continued participation in rodeo competitions, which we value, can be quite challenging. At Blue Grass, our rodeo team is more than just three journeymen competing at an event, it is a joint effort of all of our 120 employees. Our linemen compete in several rodeos throughout the year. The Blue Grass mindset is that the competition and a focus on doing the job safely helps foster good safety habits.
That being said, we do not have any professional rodeo linemen. Our linemen find time to practice (mostly on there own watch) and attend competitions, while keeping the lights on at home. Linemen who are not participating take up the slack when a team is away.
Being the size it is, Blue Grass does not have the luxury of having specialized teams or crews for every separate task, such as underground crews, construction and maintenance, troubleshooting or hazardous materials. In a single day, our linemen's job may range from washing a vehicle or bill collection in the morning to setting a pole in an energized 25-kV line in the afternoon. Our linemen may be in three or four vehicles on any given day and may work for the same or different foreman, or may even be an acting foreman themselves.
The pictures presented offer a snapshot of a day in the life of a rodeo lineman at Blue Grass Energy Cooperative. Those of us who are or have been professional linemen know it takes a special kind of person to make it in this occupation, and not any average Joe can master it. Personally, I think it is the best job in the world. I'm now the safety and compliance coordinator at Blue Grass, but my heart still goes out with the crews every day. And even after six years, I still get excited when I hear it thunder.
Rad S. Combs, safety coordinator at Blue Grass Energy Cooperative, has been in the utility business for 30 years. He began his career with a local natural gas company, then with a telephone contractor, and for the past 20 years, he's been with a distribution electric cooperative. Combs worked his way up from ground man to crew foreman, and for the past six years he has served as safety coordinator. He is a certified loss control professional. RadC@bgenergy.com