News, O&M, Policy & Regulation

Utilities keeping customers connected while coronavirus fears intensify

Much of the U.S. utility power generation sector has responded to the coronavirus scare in the best way it knows – making sure customers keep their electricity in a crisis.

Dozens of utilities have announced policies to suspend service disconnections or late-payment fees. Many, if not all, are encouraging non-critical function employees to work from home. The critical employees are those working at power plants, on the T&D system and in customer service.

Among many others, American Electric Power, ComEd, Bonneville Power Administration, Duke Energy, Entergy, FirstEnergy, PPL Corp. announced new policies trying to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus and its potential financial devastation. These moves come as businesses close around the nation and stock markets plunge.

BPA, which generates hydropower in the Pacific Northwest, announced that all of its public events would be “virtual” through at least May 1. DTE Energy, based in Detroit, released a statement saying it was suspending shutoffs for non-payment and extending its senior winter protection program through May 3.

The Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) is tracking which utilities are suspending electricity and water disconnects for non-paying customers amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

This is the story around the nation and, no doubt, elsewhere in the world. Power providers are stepping up in the public good, for as long as it takes.

Here’s hoping it doesn’t have to last too long.

Rod Walton, Content Director, Power Engineering and POWERGEN International.