A Few Good Linemen

PG&E drama showing ripple effects as far as Georgia

While Pacific Gas & Electric received positive news this week regarding its ongoing legal troubles, lesser-known entities maneuvered to counteract the situation’s surprisingly far-reaching effects.

PG&E was notified Tuesday that it was one step closer to avoiding a devastating bankruptcy fallout that seemed imminent only a few months ago, when a federal judge approved a settlement for debt refinancing. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali signed off on the deal to refinance billions of dollars in debt to pay off PG&E bondholders in a major step for the embattled California utility, which is also the nation’s largest.

One would think PG&E’s legal troubles, which despite only coming to light recently, date back to the early 2000s and are longer than your arm, are confined to its home state. But that is not the case; the reach of the utility is as far as the east coast, as proven by a recent meeting in the humble city of Marietta, Georgia.

Marietta City Manager Bill Bruton revealed at a January City Council Personnel and Insurance Committee meeting that “the market has drastically changed on us, and a lot of that, this is going to sound awfully strange, is because of California and a lot of the problems they’re having out there with their electrical grid. So they’re hiring people from all over the United States and they’re paying them … large amounts of money to go out there and devote a lot of time, a lot of overtime.”

As Electrical Apparatus’ Associate Editor David Miller detailed wonderfully in our February issue (Learn to code, lineman?, p. 13-16), the profession of being a lineman is not only changing to adapt to the digital age, but it is doing so while being as coveted a skill as ever.

118 workers from Georgia Power, the Peach State’s largest utility, have already been vultured by PG&E. But in refreshing news for skilled trade workers—local government is demonstrating how much they value linemen by taking action on the matter.

Under a plan unanimously approved by the committee last week, a brand new apprentice lineman would start out making $17.62 per hour and max out at $24.80, while a senior line worker would start out making $26.83 an hour and max out at $37.75. These are more than $1.50 raises per hour for the respective positions.

If the full council votes in favor at its Feb. 12 meeting, the pay scheme could go into effect March 1, the Marietta Daily Journal’s Ross Williams reported Wednesday.


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