More than 150 linemen and field supervisors joined forces to tackle industry-wide problems, brainstorm solutions and enjoy the camaraderie of the line trade at the 2018 TDMAA annual conference from Sept. 10-13 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Regardless of whether they were union or non-union, from the United States or Canada, worked in the field or office or specialized in transmission, distribution, substations or engineering, they put their differences aside to focus on best practices and strategies for the utility industry.
The week-long event, which was sponsored by EPB and TVA, kicked off with a technical tour to TVA's Raccoon Mountain pumping storage facility and EPB's distribution center. Next, the attendees were able to learn about new technologies and work practices and earn continuing education hours during the conference, which included three full days of panel sessions and open forums.
While many of the attendees were able to enjoy the entire conference, golf tournament and Meet-and-Greet at the Tennessee Aquarium, some of the TDMMA conference speakers and leaders had to leave two days early to return to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. As the residents were evacuating the city, the Santee Cooper employees found their way back into the area using back roads. Before he left the conference, Robbie Fleming shared his company's plans to prepare for the hurricane.
"We will mobilize resources to the areas of South Carolina thought to have the biggest impact," Fleming says. "Also, we will coordinate with our helicopter and line contractors to ensure we have the proper support."
In his keynote address for the 43rd annual TDMMA conference, David Wade, the president and CEO of EPB, not only talked about his company's experience with automation and fiber optics, but also said that linemen should be commended for the service they provide to the public.
"If you turn on the television and see the evacuation, you will see that everyone is leaving the area, while some of the folks in this room are headed back," Wade says. "That says so much about the industry that we have. We serve an industry that is part of the vitality of our whole economy. None of us are immune to the devastation that Mother Nature can put on. It can take out a whole city, town or area of the country quickly. You are the ones who have to put it all back in business, and you do important work."
The following photos show highlights from the week of education and networking at TDMMA. Next year's conference is set for Aug. 26-30, 2019, in Pasadena, California, and will be hosted by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. For more information, visit the TDMMA Web site.