Utility Responses to COVID-19

  • Post Category:Updates

Thank you to all of our NWPPA members who have shared their policies and practices concerning Coronavirus. The following is a clearinghouse of the news releases we have received this past week. We are sharing these here for your information and as a resource for anyone looking to also implement a similar practice. Please send any releases or office updates to brenda@nwppa.org so we can continue to disseminate this information to our valued membership.

 

All Grant PUD Facilities Will Be Closed to the Public until Further Notice

(March 11) As a precautionary measure to protect the safety of customers and employees, all Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.) facilities will now be closed to public access until further notice. Only employees who are identified as mission-critical personnel in operating Grant PUD’s generating and power systems, as well as the fiber network, will report to work. All other employees, contractors and vendors are ordered not to report to their work locations until further notice.

Grant PUD has learned that one of its contracted employees has had direct and prolonged exposure to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 Coronavirus. This contracted employee recently came into direct contact with several of Grant PUD’s employees. Grant PUD believes that this is a prudent precautionary measure to protect public and employee safety and avoid possible power and fiber service interruptions.

 

Grant PUD General Manager Gives Update to Grant PUD’s Response to Coronavirus Threat

(March 11) Grant PUD’s Incident Command Team and I decided this week to take the prudent action of closing all Grant PUD facilities to the public. Until further notice, only Grant PUD employees required to provide on-site, mission-critical functions will report to their normal work locations. We are also taking the advice of public health officials to create work from home options where possible.

We’ve taken these measures to keep the public and our employees as safe as possible from the potential impacts of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

 

Grant PUD Workers Test Negative for COVID-19

(March 13) Grant PUD (Ephrata, Wash.) learned on Friday (March 13) afternoon that both workers, a contract worker and a regular employee, who were tested for COVID-19 Coronavirus have received negative results.

In light of this news, Grant PUD is consulting with Grant County Health District and developing a plan to have workers, who are not at a high risk of serious complications from the virus, report to their normal work locations on Tuesday. To continue to reduce risks of COVID-19, the utility will keep its facilities closed to the public until further notice.

 

SnoPUD Makes Changes to Operations to Protect Against COVID-19

(March 11) Following the county’s recommendation of limiting large gatherings, Snohomish County PUD (Everett, Wash.) has canceled all rental and complementary usage of public spaces at PUD locations, including the PUD Auditorium at the utility’s Headquarters in downtown Everett. The Headquarters and Community Offices in Stanwood, Arlington, Snohomish, Monroe and Lynnwood remain open for business for the time being, but customers are encouraged to conduct business with the PUD, when possible, online, over the phone at (425) 783-1000 or by email at customerservice@snopud.com.

The PUD has also canceled all upcoming public in-person outreach, including lessons in local schools by PUD Classroom Educators, scheduled events for its High-Voltage Demonstration Trailer and participation in public events such as the Home Show.

 

SnoPUD Public Offices Closed, Non-Essential Business Paused

(March 13) To protect the health and well-being of customers and employees, Snohomish County PUD has closed its offices, including its Headquarters building in downtown Everett, Wash., to all public access effective March 13 and paused non-essential business operations until further notice.

The PUD’s decision, which is in line with guidance from the World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control, and the Snohomish Health District, will not affect the essential services the PUD provides to its customers, including the reliable delivery of power and water.

“We are making this decision out of an abundance of caution for the public and our employees,” said John Haarlow, Snohomish County PUD CEO/GM. “We have a team that will continue to monitor the situation in order to make the best decisions possible as we move forward.”

 

SMUD Postponing All Large Non-Essential Meetings and Limiting Staff Presence at Events Due to Coronavirus Concerns

(March 11) To minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for SMUD employees and the public, effective immediately, SMUD (Sacramento, Calif.) has postponed all non-essential meetings with more than 50 participants and limited employee participation at external events to essential staff only. The restrictions will be in place until at least April 8 due to coronavirus concerns.

SMUD has been monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) issue closely and, in line with other large companies, has taken steps to minimize the risk of exposure for our employees and for the public. The situation is evolving quickly and SMUD continues to monitor developments and advice from public health officials to put in place measures to minimize risks to our employees, the public and our operations. This latest measure follows restriction of non-critical employee travel that SMUD implemented February 28.

 

Franklin PUD Taking Proactive Measures to Protect Customers from COVID-19

(March 11) Recent public health concerns regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) are a top concern for Franklin PUD (Pasco, Wash.). Franklin PUD is monitoring information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding COVID-19, and is following federal, state, and local agency recommendations.

The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic. However, at this time, the Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD) reports there are no positive cases in Benton or Franklin counties. Franklin PUD provides an essential service to our community and will continue to operate as normal until further notice. Should Franklin PUD be required to take additional action, Franklin PUD will notify customers promptly and follow the Business Continuity Plan that is in place to ensure services are provided to customers, while still ensuring employees and our community remain safe.

 

OPALCO Offices Close for Safety—Business Open

(March 12) OPALCO (Eastsound, Wash.) is closing its offices to the public on Monday, March 16, in order to help keep co-op staff healthy and its system running smoothly. All business services are available by telephone and online.

“We are open for business,” said General Manger Foster Hildreth. “We have a responsibility to protect our staff so that they can keep the lights on for the membership. We’re doing our part to keep essential infrastructure running and our membership safe as we wait out this pandemic.”

 

Chelan PUD Closes Office Lobbies to Protect Customers and Employees

(March 12) Effective Friday, March 13, Chelan County PUD is closing public access to its office lobbies and other public entrances, until further notice as our community faces increasing impacts from COVID-19. The closure effects PUD offices in Chelan, Leavenworth, and Wenatchee, Wash.

Closing the lobbies and access to public meeting rooms and auditoriums is one of the many steps Chelan PUD is taking to make sure we continue to deliver vital electric, drinking water, sewer, and broadband internet services to customer-owners during the coronavirus pandemic. A number of community members have been tested locally for the coronavirus, and out of an abundance of caution, the lobby and auditorium closures are being implemented along with other Chelan PUD measures.

 

Feds Shift Seattle, Portland CRSO EIS Meetings to “Phone Only”

(March 12) The developing COVID-19 outbreak in Washington and Oregon has prompted federal officials to adjust two scheduled public comment meeting for the recently released Columbia River System Operation draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration decided that the in-person public comment meetings planned for Seattle and Portland will not be held due to the high number of COVID-19 cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in those geographical areas and calls from local officials to limit public exposure.

Details on when and how to call into the phone sessions will be posted at www.crso.info. The agencies will continue to monitor the public health situation and make further adjustments as needed. The public is encouraged to monitor the website for any updates.

The draft EIS is available for public review online at https://cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-enepa-II/public/action/eis/search (EPA’s searchable EIS database) or www.crso.info.

 

Grays Harbor PUD to Close Customer Service, Energy Service Lobbies

(March 13) In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Grays Harbor PUD (Aberdeen, Wash.) has announced that it will close its Customer Service and Energy Services lobby to public access, effective Monday, March 16, at 8 a.m. The utility will maintain regular staffing and hours with customer service being provided though the drive-thru window, telephone communications, and online and mobile device access.

“The PUD provides a critical public service and we will continue to do so,” said General Manager Dave Ward. “By limiting face to face interactions, we are following CDC recommendations on how to limit the spread of the virus, while still serving our customers.”

 

Benton PUD Closes Facilities to the Public

(March 13) Due to concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), all Benton PUD facilities in Kennewick and Prosser, Wash., including our auditoriums, are now closed to the public. These closures will remain in effect until further notice.

We believe our actions are prudent and timely measures consistent with our commitment to protecting the health, safety, and well-being of our employees and customers. Closing our facilities to public access is one of the many steps Benton PUD is taking to make sure we continue to deliver vital electric and broadband services during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to assess the situation and adjust our operations accordingly.

 

For Health and Safety, Mason PUD 3 Closes Office Lobbies, Auditorium to the Public

(March 13) Following national, state, and local emergency declarations, Mason PUD 3 (Shelton, Wash.) is taking steps to protect customers and employees from potential exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

PUD 3 announced that beginning Monday, March 16 – out of concern for the health of the public and PUD employees – lobbies at the Johns Prairie Operations Center, Downtown Shelton Payment Center, and Belfair Payment Center will be closed to the public indefinitely. Staff will be available to conduct business over the phone, online, or via email.

 

Franklin PUD Taking Proactive Measures to Protect Customers from COVID-19

(March 13) Due to public health concerns regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) Franklin PUD (Pasco, Wash.) will close to the public. Franklin PUD provides an essential service to our community and recognize that keeping everyone healthy is important in the continuance of providing that service.

Beginning Tuesday, March 17, we will close our walk-in customer service area, including the use of our auditorium, to help minimize the health risks to customers and employees. Assistance by phone will still be available in both English and Spanish. Customers can call our customer service department at 509-547-5591.