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Unitil Honors Lineworkers on National Lineman Appreciation Day

Power restoration efforts following recent storms highlight role of lineworkers in our communities.
Lineworker Noah LeBlond
Hampton, NH

Unitil lineworker Noah LeBlond was among the hundreds from across New Hampshire who jumped into action when significant storms in late March and early April left thousands of customers in the dark.

Crews faced gusty winds, heavy snow, pelting sleet, ice and rain as they worked to restore power, but while the conditions were challenging, the support from customers who appreciated their work made all the difference.

“A lot of times they’ll come out and give you stuff and it just makes you feel a little better about what you’re doing. Working the storms is really my favorite part about the job,” LeBlond said as he reflected on a career path he chose to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather.

Following the recent power restoration efforts, Unitil will join others across the nation in honoring the company’s lineworkers on National Lineman Appreciation Day, which will be held on Thursday, April 18.

“We experienced two major storms in recent weeks that caused significant damage to our electrical infrastructure, and these events really underscored the critical role that our lineworkers play when the power goes out,” said Unitil External Affairs Director Alec O’Meara. “Lineworkers enter this field knowing that they could be called out at any hour and in all kinds of weather to assist with restoration efforts, even when their own family may be home in the dark. We recognize the sacrifices they make each and every day and we appreciate their dedication to the customers in the communities they serve.”     

Congress established National Lineman Appreciation Day every April 18 to recognize lineworkers following Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and their tireless efforts to protect public safety and keep the electricity flowing 24 hours a day, 365 days a year during all kinds of weather conditions.

Fortunately, the nearly 30,000 Unitil customers in Fitchburg, Ashby, Lunenburg and Townsend, Mass., were mostly spared during the most recent storms. As a result, Townsend resident Ryan Harris, a first class overhead lineman at Unitil, provided mutual aid support in other areas.

“We didn’t have a lot of outages in our service territory, so after the handful of customers got their power on, I was dispatched to Concord, N.H. for three-and-a-half days to help with the restoration effort,” Harris said.

He and other utility workers then assisted New Hampshire Electric Cooperative in Raymond, N.H. with their power restoration for three more days. “I was gone for seven days helping restore power,” noted Harris. “It was a long time being away from my family, but they are really supportive.”

Even though the days are long, working 16 hours straight with eight hours off and returning for another 16 hours, there is a great deal of satisfaction restoring customers’ power, according to Harris, who added, “The vast majority of customers are so appreciative and especially those with medical conditions and the senior citizens.”

It was a circuitous career path for Harris, who began his career jumping out of planes for the U.S, Army’s Airborne Division. After a little more than four years, he left the military and decided to get trained as a diesel mechanic, working on heavy duty trucks and equipment. But, a lifelong interest in the electrical field, in part due to his father who was a utility lineworker, inspired Harris to apply for a position with then NStar Electric, now Eversource.

Quickly working his way through an in-house apprentice lineman program, Harris spent 10 years as a lineman for Eversource before joining Unitil about two years ago. “I was commuting from Townsend to Southborough, which was taking me away from my family so I jumped at the opportunity to join Unitil,” said Harris. “Most of all, it’s the opportunity to work with my hands and tools in an outdoor setting while providing a critical service with a great team that gives me a great deal of satisfaction.”

Dakota Hunter joined Unitil last year after spending five years working as a lineworker with a utility contractor, and like LeBlond and Harris, he said he was drawn to the profession because of family members and friends who chose linework for a career.

“It’s really been just a great career path for me. I was always an outdoor person anyways so I enjoy doing this work,” Hunter said.

Hunter said crews often hear words of praise and encouragement from customers in the field, but he recalled one time in particular when he was working to restore power and a couple came out of their house to surprise workers with a homemade breakfast.

“It was early in the morning and we had been working all night. They made us pretty much an entire breakfast meal with sausage, eggs, bacon, and pancakes, too. They were really appreciative and just went above and beyond,” he said.

Linework wasn’t the career LeBlond originally considered when he began taking electrical classes at Manchester Community College, but when he learned about an electrical lineworker program he decided to enroll.

“I’ve grown up around it and knew about it. I’ve been to lineman rodeos. It wasn’t really in my head at first, but it came up and just fell into place,” he said. “Some days it can be tough and really physically demanding, but I like the hands-on part and working in different areas for the customers. It’s also nice when people come out and say thank you.”

LeBlond remembered a time when an older woman made a fruit cake for him and other lineworkers when they were stuck working on Christmas. He recalled another time when it was Halloween and a mother and her son stopped by with a jug full of Halloween candy. “Seeing the kids look up to us is really cool to see,” he said. “I always think that someday maybe they’ll see us doing linework and maybe that will be in their head and they’ll think, ‘Maybe one day I’d like to do that.’”

As more veteran lineworkers reach retirement age in the coming years, Hunter encouraged others to consider entering the profession. “It can be hard work and definitely tough working out in the conditions, but if you don’t mind working in the elements it can be a really great career choice,” he said.


About Unitil

Unitil Corporation provides energy for life by safely and reliably delivering electricity and natural gas in New England. We are committed to the communities we serve and to developing people, business practices, and technologies that lead to the delivery of dependable, more efficient energy. Unitil Corporation is a public utility holding company with operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Together, Unitil’s operating utilities serve approximately 108,500 electric customers and 88,400 natural gas customers.


Media Contact

Alec O'Meara
Director, External Affairs