Celebrating the essential workers who power our lives, rain or shine

Our committed lineworkers’ dedication makes a difference to customers and demonstrates Duke Energy at its best

When Chris Stone first got into linework, he knew nothing about it. But it didn’t take long for him to realize how much he enjoys it.

“I love being outdoors. I love the challenge that each job brings,” said Stone, a senior lineman at Duke Energy’s Spartanburg Operations Center. “You’re gonna make sacrifices. We lose time with our families, but it’s a job that allows you to see things you’d never see and meet people you’d never meet.”

Stone and his teammates build and maintain more than 3,000 miles of power lines in Spartanburg County, S.C., helping deliver electricity from a diverse mix of power plants to nearly 110,000 area customers – a number that’s only projected to grow, said Duke Energy’s Linda Hannon, director of government and community relations in Upstate South Carolina.

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Chris Stone moved to the Spartanburg area with his family in 2016. “It was already a booming area,” he said, “but seeing it grow just makes me excited for my kids and for the future.”

“I think people have learned what a wonderful place Spartanburg is,” Hannon said. “People seem to like metropolitan areas in small buckets and that's what you have in the Upstate. You can go to downtown Spartanburg or to downtown Greenville and it is metro. Yet, there’s a greater sense of community here compared to many larger places. And we still have a lot of green space.”

By some estimates, the number of Spartanburg County residents will roughly double by 2040. And rapid change is already underway.

“We’re seeing housing developments, new commercial buildings going up everywhere,” Stone said. “That’s a great thing, I think, because it means new opportunities, more jobs for the people in this community.”

Duke Energy lineworkers support the growth of industries and businesses – in the Carolinas, Florida and the Midwest – by helping expand power infrastructure. They install new power lines, transformers and other equipment to reliably accommodate growth. And they often work in challenging conditions, including extreme weather and heights, to restore power and keep our communities running.

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Duke Energy operates and maintains more than 350,000 miles of transmission and distribution power lines that deliver electricity from a diverse mix of power plants to 8.4 million electric utility customers in six states.

“These men and women are special,” Hannon said. “If there’s a volunteer project, our lineworkers are first to sign up. They are servers. They want to make our communities better. They deserve all the credit and accolades we can give them.”

Duke Energy celebrates National Lineworker Appreciation Day on April 18, an acknowledgment of the challenging work of all utility lineworkers nationwide who are committed to keeping the lights on and readying the grid for a low-carbon future. This includes the thousands of Duke Energy and contract lineworkers, as well as substation and relay technicians, who make up Duke Energy’s line team.

“Every day, we’re out here doing something to make the system better for our customers,” Stone said. “We work in the pouring rain, the heat, the snow … and it’s nice when people let you know that they appreciate what you’re doing.” 

Line Apprentice II Sterling Midgette was born and raised in Spartanburg, so being able to work out of Spartanburg Operations Center allows him to serve the community he grew up in.

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Apprentice lineworker Sterling Midgette got a job at Duke Energy after nearly five years as a gas operator at Piedmont Natural Gas. “Piedmont was great,” Midgette said, “but I always wanted to be a lineworker. And I love serving the community I grew up in.”

“I interviewed at Duke Energy like eight times,” Midgette said. “When you see a lineworker, you show them a lot of respect because they put their lives to the side to help customers and provide for their families.”

As a line apprentice, the first step in a lineworker’s career, Midgette leans on his teammates – people like Stone and Mike Hawkins – who have a combined six decades of linework experience.

“They welcomed me to be a part of the team,” he said. “Even though I'm a new guy.”

“I try to take the younger ones, or the new ones, under my wing and just kind of help them,” Hawkins said, “be there to advise them on things – safety especially. Safety is more important than anything. And that’s leaving work the same way you came in. I get great joy out of it because that’s the future. And I mean, I’m still learning. You never know it all here.”

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Journeyman Mike Hawkins grew up in Greer, S.C. He and his wife currently live in Boiling Springs, “a little community north of Spartanburg.”

Hawkins, a journeyman known by “Hawk” among colleagues, is approaching his 44th year of service at Duke Energy – a milestone he’ll hit in October. He became interested in linework decades ago, after three years as a Marine Corps field radio operator.

“When one of us is down, all of us are down – just as it was in the military,” Hawkins said. “Whether it’s a Duke Energy line team from another state, a contractor, or another utility we work with on storm response, we look after each other. It’d be just like the fire department, police, the military. We are first responders to the power company.”

“Lineworkers don’t always get the same recognition as fire or police,” Stone said, “but we’re first responders, too. If there’s a broken pole, a structure fire, or when storms hit and there are outages, we work right alongside the other first responders. It might be 2 o’clock in the morning, but we’re out there trying to get the power back on.”

In addition to storm response and outage restoration, lineworkers help make power distribution more efficient – working on projects that are strengthening the grid against severe weather, modernizing the system to ensure a smoother transition to cleaner energy, and giving customers more ways to use energy the way they want to use it.

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Spartanburg is both the newest operations center in the Duke Energy fleet and the largest Duke Energy ops center in South Carolina.

“Whether responding to outages from extreme weather or making upgrades across the system for a stronger and more resilient power grid to serve our customers, our dedicated lineworkers in the Carolinas, Florida and the Midwest assist our communities in their greatest time of need,” said Scott Batson, senior vice president and chief power grid officer at Duke Energy. “These line teams serve on the front lines every day, going head-to-head with storms, emergencies and many other challenges to deliver safe and reliable service.”

Line teams are also expanding Duke Energy’s network of smart, self-healing technology, automated technology that can reduce the number of customers impacted by an outage and speed up restoration efforts to restore power faster.

Self-healing technology helped avoid more than 1.5 million customer outages across the company’s six-state service area in 2023. It also supports the two-way power flow needed to sustainably expand solar and other innovative technologies like battery storage and electric vehicles.

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Duke Energy is working at the site of what will become a new minor league ballpark in downtown Spartanburg. The park will seat approximately 3,500 people.

“Lineworkers play a big role in everything that's going on right now,” Stone said. “We're out here daily, upgrading the system to make it more reliable. We're installing new equipment to make power restoration a lot faster. We got crews all over – not just in Spartanburg, but all the areas that we serve out of our ops center – re-conducting lines and installing larger wire so we can handle the load for all these new customers coming in.

“It makes me excited for my kids and for the future, to see what it’s going to hold.”