Santee Cooper wins prestigious APPA awards and earns Reliable Public Power Provider designation

MONCKS CORNER, S.C. – Santee Cooper was presented with an award for outstanding safety, a Reliable Public Power Provider designation, and first and second overall places in the national lineworkers rodeo. The awards were announced this week at the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) national Lineworkers Rodeo and at the association’s annual Engineering & Operations Technical Conference, both of which were held in San Antonio, Texas.

Safety Award of Excellence

Santee Cooper has earned a first place APPA annual Safety Award of Excellence for safe operating practices in 2016. The award is in the category for large utilities, with 1,000,000 to 3,999,999 worker-hours of annual worker exposure.

“We are extremely pleased and proud to have earned APPA’s Safety Award for Excellence,” said Ken Lott, Santee Cooper’s interim vice president of human resource management. “Santee Cooper considers safety for our employees and customers of paramount importance. This award is a testament to the dedication and focus our employees have and continue to have in creating and maintaining a safe working environment.”

Lott said in 2016 Santee Cooper recorded 29 safety incidents, the fewest of any year since records were kept. Santee Cooper has a workforce of 1,759 employees.

“Our safety record in 2016 was likely our best ever,” said Lott. “We have been steadily lowering the annual number of safety incidents over the last 30 years. We continue to see positive results in 2017. For example, in March and April we went 48 consecutive days without a safety incident.”

The award was presented Monday by Rick Aguilar, chair of the APPA’s Safety Committee and director of job training at Kansas Municipal Utilities, at APPA’s annual Engineering & Operations Technical Conference.

“When it comes to electric utility operations, safety is a top priority for everyone involved, from lineman to operator,” said Aguilar. “These utilities have embraced a culture of safety while serving their local communities and deserve to be recognized.”

Utilities that entered were placed in categories according to their number of worker-hours, and ranked based on the most incident-free records during 2016. The incidence rate, used to judge entries, is based on the number of work-related reportable injuries or illnesses, and the number of worker-hours during 2016 as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

APPA’s safety awards program has been held for the last 58 consecutive years. The organization is the voice for 2,000 not-for-profit municipal, state and district utilities.


Lineworkers Rodeo Awards

Santee Cooper’s lineworker teams swept first and second places at Saturday’s national APPA Lineworkers Rodeo. Out of 73 competing teams, the Santee Cooper transmission team won first place overall and the Santee Cooper distribution team won second.

The transmission team includes Jay Ayers, Johnny Brinson and Kevin Rhode. Drew Jordan, Joe Sawyer and Chad Williams make up the distribution team. Neither one of the Santee Cooper teams lost any points during event competition, meaning they met every safety standard.

In addition to the overall awards, Rhode, Brinson, and Ayers placed first in the cutout replacement, first in the OCR replacement and second in the phase tie-in events. Jordan, Sawyer and Williams placed second in the crossarm replacement and third in the OCR replacement events.

Also, Santee Cooper Distribution apprentice James “Sport” Rabon placed third in the cutout fuse replacement event, out of more than 150 apprentices in that class.

Reliable Public Power Provider Designation

Santee Cooper earned the Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3®) Diamond Level designation from APPA for providing customers with the highest degree of reliable and safe electric service. The award was presented Monday at APPA’s annual Engineering & Operations Technical Conference. This is the fifth time Santee Cooper earned the RP3 designation.

“We work hard to provide safe, reliable, low-cost and environmentally responsible power and water to our customers,” said Mike Poston, vice president of retail operations at Santee Cooper. “The RP3 designation represents our employees’ efforts, and we are honored to receive the Diamond level again.”

The RP3 designation, which lasts for three years, recognizes public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, workforce development and system improvement. Criteria include sound business practices and a utility-wide commitment to safe and reliable delivery of electricity. This is the 12th year that RP3 recognition has been offered. Santee Cooper joins more than 220 public power utilities nationwide that hold the RP3 designation.

“Utilities that have earned an RP3 designation demonstrate public power’s emphasis on achieving leading practices and providing a high level of service to communities,” said David Lynch, chair of APPA’s RP3 Review Panel and assistant director of utility operations at Marquette Board of Light and Power and Panel, Michigan. “We are proud to welcome all utilities earning this recognition for the first time and to those renewing their designations.”

APPA, located in Washington, D.C., is the voice of not-for-profit, community-owned utilities that power 49 million people in 2,000 towns and cities nationwide. The association advocates and advises on electricity policy, technology, trends, training, and operations.

Santee Cooper is South Carolina’s largest power provider, largest Green Power generator and the ultimate source of electricity for 2 million people across the state. Through its low-cost, reliable and environmentally responsible electricity and water services, and through innovative partnerships and initiatives that attract and retain industry and jobs, Santee Cooper powers South Carolina. To learn more, visit