FRED CLARK: Alabama’s public power workers are unsung heroes (op-ed)

Fred Clark

Fred Clark is president and CEO of the Alabama Municipal Electric Authority.

The public power network and the values we stand for have shone brightly in the aftermath of the severe storms that caused widespread damage and outages in April across our state and particularly in Alabama Municipal Electric Authority (AMEA) communities. 

Public power once again responded to the call for help and joined communities in assisting with relief efforts. 

Electric cities throughout Alabama have a long tradition of working with member and neighboring utilities to help restore electricity in a timely and safe manner. This is public power at its best – brothers helping brothers, neighbors helping neighbors. In times of disaster, your public power employees stand ready to assist.

Not only do your public power employees stand ready to assist during natural disasters, but they also stand ready to serve even during unprecedented times like the coronavirus pandemic. 

The current health crisis has given us a new sense of appreciation for the men and women of Alabama’s public power utilities who keep the critical infrastructure running smoothly. From doctors and nurses to grocery-shelf stockers to parcel delivery personnel, the importance of these essential workers to our society and our economy cannot be overstated.

The men and women who work for Alabama’s public power utilities, including AMEA communities of Alexander City, Dothan, Fairhope, Foley, LaFayette, Lanett, Luverne, Opelika, Piedmont, Sylacauga and Tuskegee, belong in this special class of unsung heroes. They are quite literally powering our great state and America through this crisis.

More than 49 million Americans get their electricity from not-for-profit, community-owned public power utilities like AMEA’s member utilities.

Your public power utility provides low-cost, reliable electricity to people in these member cities, while at the same time employing people who live in the community. During challenging times like the one we now find ourselves in, the last thing you should have to be concerned about is the safety and reliability of your electricity supply.

It isn’t just homes that depend upon public power. Your local public power utility also provides power to local hospitals, military bases, factories, plants, police stations, grocery stores and other critical facilities, just to name a few.

The simple act of turning on a light switch or charging a smartphone is made possible by the engineers, technicians, lineworkers and support staff who comprise Alabama’s public power workforce. 

They do their jobs with care and professionalism, often at great personal sacrifice and risk. They are a perfect example of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help their communities and their country in times of need.

They deserve all the protections, privileges and praise afforded to the essential workforce. They also deserve all the respect and appreciation a grateful nation and our communities can offer. 

Fred Clark is president and CEO of the Alabama Municipal Electric Authority.