Power Lines Blog

Lineworkers and lawyers, two honorable professions


On June 6, I went to the 2016 Fundraising Gala put on by the Charitable Foundation of the Energy Bar Association here in DC. Usually I am not all that excited about these kinds of events, but I have a very soft spot in my heart for the CFEBA. I served on its board for a number of years, and really believe in its mission. CFEBA supports good works in the U.S. and around the world, and tries to focus on energy related causes — you can find out more at www.cfeba.org/

You may remember the wonderful “Solar Suitcases” that APPA funded as part of its 75th anniversary last year through We Care Solar — I found out about them through the CFEBA.

This year, CFEBA is using the funds it has raised to help electrify two villages in rural Bolivia — 461 families, to be exact! The NRECA International Foundation, which does rural electrification projects around the world, will use the money to install 21 miles of electric lines, using volunteer lineworkers. Having spent three years working for NRECA in the mid-90s, I know the foundation has done great work in many countries. To celebrate this project, the Gala featured a troupe of Bolivian dancers—not your typical DC gala entertainment!

But even better, CFEBA took the opportunity to honor the contributions of public power, co-op, and IOU lineworkers around the country. We at APPA (Delia Patterson, Alex Hofmann, Tanzina Islam, Patricia Keane, Joe Nipper, Randy Elliott and I) were happy to host Aaron Haderle and Eddie Cluc from Kissimmee Utility Authority and Todd Keach of Rochester Public Utilities (along with Mike Willetts of the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association) at the Gala.

I was kvelling (look it up!) to see our lineworkers up on stage getting their awards. It was very fitting for the energy lawyers of the CFEBA to acknowledge the crucial role that lineworkers play in keeping the lights on and the Chardonnay chilled!

Lawyers come in for lots of flak — they are generally seen as opportunistic, money grubbing, and without a moral compass. Maybe because I spent over 30 years practicing law myself, I take issue with that view. Yes, there are some lawyers that remind one of an episode of “Better Call Saul,” but almost all of the lawyers I dealt with during my years in practice were ethical and doing their best to serve their clients. And the volunteer lawyers who spend some of their precious free time to run the CFEBA — a small but mighty charity — deserve a special shoutout. So, here’s to lineworkers and lawyers — long may they ply their trades!

Sue Kelly

Sue Kelly

President and CEO