Duke Energy’s Carolinas Lineman’s Rodeo qualifies 30 local lineworkers to compete in international event

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  • Regional Lineman’s Rodeo events test job skills critical to power delivery and restoration

  • International rodeo competition featuring the world’s top lineworkers to be held Oct. 19 in Bonner Springs, Kan.

NEW HILL, N.C. – At a competition powered by skill and packed with competitors, 30 Duke Energy lineworkers secured spots over the weekend to compete among the most elite lineworkers in the world this fall at the International Lineman's Rodeo.

Duke Energy’s Carolinas Lineman’s Rodeo in New Hill was one of three regional Lineman’s Rodeos taking place this spring across Duke Energy’s service areas, displaying the talent and skills of the company’s dedicated lineworkers. Lineman’s rodeos are specialized contests that test job-related skills line technicians rely on daily to restore power day and night – often in unpredictable outdoor conditions. Events take place on de-energized equipment in a simulated environment, but participants are scored based on simulations of on-the-job work, with deductions for mistakes. Competitors are judged on efficiency, agility, technique and safety procedures.

Categories scored included equipment repair, pole climbs and hurt man rescues. Duke Energy holds three regional competitions to qualify lineworkers for the international competition – including in the Carolinas, Florida and the Midwest.

The Carolinas rodeo this year included one senior team, 46 journeyman teams and 76 apprentices. Team divisions are based in part on tenure. An apprentice is a lineworker with less than four years of utility experience. A journeyman or senior journeyman with Duke Energy has more than four years of utility experience. The senior division in a lineman’s rodeo denotes lineworkers who are 50 years old or older.

“Our lineworkers are always prepared for any circumstance, but the extreme elements associated with storms, oppressive heat and bitterly cold temperatures can add challenges,” said Scott Batson, chief power grid officer at Duke Energy. “We are able to keep the lights on for millions of customers who depend on us thanks to our line teams’ dedication to training, experience in the field, passion for their craft and supporting one another.”

Elevated expertise

Duke Energy Carolinas regional rodeo winners will join other top lineworkers from Duke Energy rodeos in Florida and the Midwest to compete in the International Lineman’s Rodeo in Bonner Springs, Kan., on Oct. 19, an international event that attracts the most talented lineworkers from around the world. The best lineworkers at Duke Energy and its legacy companies have showcased their talents at the International Lineman's Rodeo for more than two decades.

“Many linemen are competitive by nature which makes the rodeo fun, but more importantly it gives our families an opportunity to see what we do every day and what can sometimes take us away for work in the middle of the night,” said Jay Tipton, journeyman lineworker with Duke Energy’s Asheville Operations Center. “It’s wonderful that Duke Energy continues to support us and this event that is so significant for those closest to us.”

Duke Energy Carolinas competitors advancing from regional rodeos to the International Lineman’s Rodeo include:

Apprentice Overall Awards

East Division

  • First place – David Hutter
  • Second place – Ryan Price
  • Third place – Grayson Lassiter

West Division

  • First place – Eli Medford
  • Second place – Dawson Henderson
  • Third place – James Smith

Overall Best Apprentice – David Hutter

Journeyman Overall Awards

East Division

  • First place – Josh Haithcock, Zack Haithcock, William Gandy
  • Second place – David Grissom, Austin Jackson, Grant Thompson
  • Third place – Ryan Denning, Lane Pickett, Austin Bowden
  • Fourth place – Preston Pernell, Gavin Frederick, Tyler Pegram

West Division

  • First place – Sandy Barnhill, Jay Tipton, Keith Griffin
  • Second place – Matt Josey, Aaron Smith, Shane Stillwell
  • Third place – Miles Bell, Daniel Burrell, Jordan Henderson
  • Fourth place – Tyler Manick, Tyler Nickols, Joshua Buckner

Overall Best Journeyman Team – Sandy Barnhill, Jay Tipton, Keith Griffin

Overall Best Senior Team – Sandy Barnhill, Jay Tipton, Keith Griffin

“The rodeo is a great place to showcase skills that we utilize on a daily basis – and getting to compete in rain and inclement weather like we saw Saturday reflects the scenarios we deal with on a day-to-day basis,” said William Gandy, journeyman lineworker with Duke Energy’s Florence Operations Center. “I’m fortunate to compete with a team that has the same determination and dedication to the job and our customers, as working hand in hand through storms and daily work makes competing at the rodeo together that much more meaningful.”

The 2024 Carolinas Lineman’s Rodeo was supported by volunteers from across the Duke Energy community. Sixty Duke Energy volunteers, 18 volunteers from South Wake Storm Youth Sports Association, 20 volunteer students and staff from seven community colleges, 72 judges and six bucket truck operators were on hand during the competition.

Powering the future grid

Lineworkers play a key role in power grid improvement projects that help modernize and strengthen Duke Energy’s system against storms and other impacts, making it more reliable and resilient. This can include work to upgrade lines and poles, underground outage-prone lines where data indicates it makes sense to do so, and enhancing grid reliability through the integration of smart, self-healing technology – which saved more than 1.5 million customer interruptions and avoided more than 3.5 million hours of customer outage time in 2023.

Hiring and developing entry-level craft and skilled talent is critical to address the growing needs of residential and nonresidential customers, as well as to deploy a cleaner, diverse energy mix to meet current and future needs for these customers and their communities. These vital employees also help enable the connection of more renewables and added protection from cybersecurity and physical threats.

Duke Energy continues to hire lineworker talent and works closely with community colleges across its company footprint to recruit diverse, skilled candidates. Individuals interested in a lineworking career with Duke Energy should contact community colleges directly for more information on their specific lineworker training programs, including available funding for tuition. 

“Safely powering our customers and communities is the most important job we have,” said Batson. “We are proud to be able to source extraordinary talent through our community college partners to join our line teams and serve as ambassadors for the company with our customers."

Duke Energy

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 8.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 50,000 megawatts of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 27,600 people.

Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy transition to achieve its goals of net-zero methane emissions from its natural gas business by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions from electricity generation by 2050. The company has interim carbon emission targets of at least 50% reduction from electric generation by 2030, 50% for Scope 2 and certain Scope 3 upstream and downstream emissions by 2035, and 80% from electric generation by 2040. In addition, the company is investing in major electric grid enhancements and energy storage, and exploring zero-emission power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear. 

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2023 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ “World’s Best Employers” list. More information is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos and videos. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on TwitterLinkedInInstagram and Facebook.

Media contact: Logan Kureczka                                                                     
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