Justin Stanley, Line Tech II, plumbs a 40-foot utility pole as it’s set in the ground at the site of the FMEA Lineman Competition OUC will host on March 4.

OUC line techs, aided by students in Valencia College’s Electrical Powerline Technician program, on Feb. 13 began preparing the site for the upcoming Florida Municipal Electric Association’s (FMEA) Lineman Competition in Orlando. As the host utility of the March 4 event, OUC is responsible for setting up the field where more than 150 lineworkers from 13 FMEA-member utilities will compete for trophies and bragging rights. The event begins at 7:30 a.m. and is free to attend.

Working together, professional and aspiring line techs planted about 60 of 101 40-foot utility poles to exact specifications on the first of their weeklong site setup near the Marriott Orlando Airport Lakeside. On Feb. 22, crews from some competing utilities will help build out the competition field with equipment that will be used in contests among apprentices and three-member journeyman teams. Representing OUC will be eight apprentices and five journeyman teams, 23 competitors overall.

In addition to winning trophies, the annual competition offers line techs from across the state an opportunity to build camaraderie and reinforce safety as their top priority. Under mutual aid agreements, municipal utilities send lineworkers to help member utilities restore power in emergency situations. This year’s competition will start with the “Mutual Aid Event,” with line techs from different utilities forming three-person teams and working together to safely complete a task in the fastest time and with the fewest faults, or “gigs.”

While hosting the 2023 FMEA Lineman Competition, OUC will kick off celebrations commemorating its 100th anniversary, which is officially in June. The event site will include powerline safety demonstrations, a children’s play area, food trucks with covered dining area, and free bottled water set out in coolers.

Students in Valencia College’s Electrical Powerline Technician program are working with OUC line techs on site preparation.