Electric Cooperatives Take Steps to Keep the Lights on During Coronavirus Outbreak

ARLINGTON, Va. – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jim Matheson today issued the following statement on efforts by electric cooperatives to maintain reliability throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

“Electric cooperatives have been taking steps to prepare for the evolving Coronavirus challenges, while maintaining their commitment to the consumer-members and communities they serve,” Matheson said. “Electric co-ops have a strong track record of preparing for many kinds of emergencies that could impact the ability to generate and deliver electricity to one in eight Americans. Planning for this situation is unique from other business continuity planning. It requires co-ops and their business partners to prepare to operate with a smaller workforce, potential disruptions in the supply chain, and limited support services for an extended period of time.” 

To support these planning efforts, America’s electric cooperatives are reviewing staffing with an emphasis on maintaining the availability of key personnel and supplies to ensure business continuity and the reliability of their energy systems. Co-ops and others in the electric sector operate with a well-developed mutual assistance program that enables shared resources and expertise during emergency situations. Continued close coordination between co-ops, local, state and federal officials will be essential during the next several weeks.

Electric co-ops regularly practice and review emergency preparedness plans. In response to COVID-19, co-ops have implemented their business continuity and pandemic response plans. Additional preparations at many co-ops include:

  • Increased communication between key stakeholders, including federal, state, and local governments.
  • Cancelling planned public meetings and non-essential business travel.
  • Closing offices to the public to prevent the spread of the disease.
  • Purchasing cots, food and supplies for essential employees in the event they need to be sequestered to ensure generation and delivery of electricity.
  • Reviewing staffing needs to ensure continuity of critical business functions.
  • Implementing temperature screening protocols before entering certain areas.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $12 billion annually in their communities.