SMECO Employees Rack Up Awards at Lineman's Rodeo

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Line workers from Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) brought home numerous honors from the 2007 Gaff ‘n’ Go Lineman’s Rodeo, held on Saturday, April 14 at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Sponsored by Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, the rodeo offers a series of competitive events for utility line workers. The events are simulations of events faced by linemen as they work to keep electricity flowing to customers. Competitions are scored based on speed of completion and adherence to safety procedures.

For the group competitions, the team of SMECO chief lineman Will Robertson and journeyman linemen Chris Winkler and Jeremy Green won two major honors. The trio took first place among teams from the member co-ops of the Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC). For their achievement, they received VMDAEC’s new Jimmy Gardiner Cup, named for the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative employee who is the oldest living lineman in the United States (age 95).

Robertson, Winkler, and Green also took second place among teams of journeyman linemen from all electric utilities, including the investor-owned utilities. The team will be eligible to compete in the 2007 International Lineman’s Rodeo, which will be held in October in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

For the individual competitions, SMECO apprentice lineman Brian Rawlings took third place in the Pole Climb for apprentice linemen. Rawlings took second place and SMECO apprentice lineman Eric Rutherford took third place in the Hurt Man Rescue event for apprentices. Rutherford also did well in two surprise competitions, taking third place for Climbing Skills and second place for Equipment Grounding.

“Our day-to-day safety practices and hard work by our linemen really paid off,” said Mike Nygaard, SMECO’s system safety supervisor. “I’m extremely proud of all our linemen who competed. They did SMECO proud.”

SMECO is a customer-owned electric cooperative providing electricity to over 142,000 services in southern Prince George’s County, and in Charles County, St. Mary’s County, and all but the northeast portion of Calvert County.  Co-ops are distinctly different from investor-owned utilities because co-ops are owned by their customers, and these members vote for men and women who sit on the Board of Directors.  As one of over 600 Touchstone Energy Co-ops, SMECO promotes values that are important to its customer-members: Accountability, Integrity, Innovation, and Commitment to Community.

Co-ops also issue capital credits to their members.  What are capital credits?  They are the member’s share of the co-op’s margins, based on how much electricity the member purchased and the rate at which the account was billed.  SMECO’s margins—revenue less expenses—are used as working capital for new construction and system improvements.  Each year, SMECO determines what percentage of the capital credits can be distributed to the members.  Capital credits are then issued by check or credited to the member’s electric bill.

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