The Wire

Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


OPPD lineworkers show off their skills

April 10, 2023 | Grant Schulte | OPPD employees, public power, T&D
lineworkers rodeo
The crew from OPPD gathers for a photo at the American Public Power Association’s Lineworkers Rodeo.

OPPD line workers fixed broken electrical equipment, swapped out parts on power poles and even conducted a rescue Saturday as dozens of spectators stared up at them and judges with stopwatches scrutinized their every move.

lineworkers rodeo
Friends and family have the chance to watch lineworkers compete at the rodeo.

It was all a simulation, of course, and a good test of skills for the five OPPD line workers who competed in the American Public Power Association’s annual Lineworkers Rodeo in Kansas City, Kansas.

The event gives public power line workers a chance to show off their skills in front of family and friends and to inspire young people to join the profession. It’s also a way to celebrate and recognize the importance of public power.

“The team did an excellent job of representing OPPD,” said Lee O’Neal, the utility’s senior director of Operations Support.

Participants have the opportunity to network with their peers, check out new tools on display and learn from others. Journeyman and apprentice line workers compete for professional recognition, attend training and practice essential skills in a safe environment. Hundreds of teams from across the country participated.

Cold and windy

Each team worked through gusty winds and temperatures in the mid-30s the morning of the competition, the kind of conditions that OPPD crews routinely face on the job.

Featured events included a double dead end insulator change-out, cross-arm and cutout relocations, a written test and the “hurt man rescue,” which uses a dummy to simulate an injured coworker dangling helplessly from a pole. Journeyman were required to change insulators, repair simulated storm damage and swap out transformers, among other challenges.

T&D_Lineworker APPA Rodeo 2023 composite
Line Technician Ted Gyhra and Troubleshooter Brent Foxhoven compete in a journeyman event, left. Line Technician Richard Terrian competes in an apprentice event.

OPPD’s journeyman team completed the rodeo’s “hurt man” drill in a blistering 1 minute, 19 seconds. Their time was less than 17 seconds behind the top competitor.

OPPD officials who assisted with the event said they were proud of the team.

“They did well and had a good time,” said Aaron Mercer, manager of OPPD’s Transmission & Distribution Center.

The rodeo featured a Saturday evening banquet to celebrate all public power line workers and recognize winners in each competition. OPPD participates in similar rodeos throughout the year, including the International Lineman’s Rodeo & Expo and the Nebraska Lineworkers’ Rodeo.

Representing OPPD

OPPD’s journeyman team included Line Technicians Brent Sass and Ted Gyhra and Troubleshooter Brent Foxhoven. Line Technician Tony Liston served as a backup for the journeyman team. Richard Terrian, also a line technician, competed in the rodeo’s apprentice events, while Chad Metschke, another line technician, served as a competition judge. Line Technician Aaron Prohaska helped the team prepare for events and assisted with logistics and planning.

Other OPPD employees also aided the team, including Mercer; O’Neal; Brian Kramer, senior director of Utility Operations Maintenance & Construction; Ernie Ross, lead safety specialist; and Troy Via, chief operating officer and vice president of Utility Operations.

Author Image

About Grant Schulte

Grant Schulte joined OPPD as a content generalist in 2022. He is a former reporter for The Associated Press, where he covered the Nebraska Legislature, state politics and other news for a global audience. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa and a proud Hawkeye. In his free time he enjoys running, reading, spending time with his wife, and all things aviation.

View all posts by Grant Schulte >

Leave a Comment


How Does That Work?


Leading the Way

Powerful Life


Working for You