Disaster Response and Mutual Aid

APPA takes a number of actions in response to coronavirus

The American Public Power Association is working with its government partners and regularly communicating with its member utilities in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

On March 6, Joy Ditto, President and CEO of APPA, sent a message to APPA members in which she noted the Association, in coordination with industry and government partners, is closely monitoring the evolving situation with regard to COVID-19.

“We are committed to the health and safety of our membership and the public at large. Any and all actions we take as an association will be in an effort to honor this commitment,” wrote Ditto. 

Beyond the monitoring effort, Ditto said that APPA is working with its members, the electric utility industry, and government partners to gather and share up-to-date information, best practices and guidance to help APPA members stay safe and maintain operational integrity.

In response to the coronavirus disease, there is ongoing coordination through the CEO-led Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC) with industry and government partners. The ESCC serves as the principal liaison between the federal government and the electric power industry and is comprised of the CEOs that represent all segments of the industry, including investor-owned electric companies, electric cooperatives, and public power utilities in the U.S. and Canada.

Kevin Wailes, administrator and CEO of Lincoln Electric System, serves as co-chair of the ESCC. Ditto serves on the ESCC Steering Committee.

The ESCC has developed a resource guide—tailored to electric power industry leaders—for assessing and mitigating COVID-19. It is available at ElectricitySubsector.org and will be updated as necessary.

In addition, various APPA members are activating and/or reviewing their business continuity and preparedness plans to ensure that operations and infrastructure are properly supported. Public power utilities are also sharing best practices with each other and collaborating with other municipal functions such as water, wastewater, and gas.

APPA has also scheduled a webinar on March 12 for public power utilities to learn about and share best practices on pandemic planning and preparations for COVID-19.

The webinar will be geared toward public power utility leadership, including those who have responsibility over HR, T&D, safety, disaster preparedness\emergency management, supply management, and security.

It will feature presentations from three public power utilities and an opportunity to ask questions and share best practices. For more info please email [email protected]

NERC issues industry alert with recommendations

Meanwhile, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation on March 10 issued a Corornavirus Disease (Covid-19) Pandemic Contingency Planning industry alert with recommendations. 

The six recommendations included in the alert are:

  • Develop and maintain suitable situational awareness of the current status of the spread of COVID-19 and credible future estimates of its spread and impacts;
  • Reinforce good personal hygiene practices across the workforce;
  • Review and update existing business continuity plans to ensure they are adequate to mitigate the direct impacts of a pandemic outbreak in the organization’s footprint that creates staffing constraints for reliability and business functions;
  • Assess the organization’s resilience against disruption to the availability of critical components, materials, and support resources with supply chains originating or traversing significantly impacted regions globally;
  • Assess the need to adjust planned construction and maintenance activity schedules to prioritize the most important projects; and
  • Anticipate and prepare for coronavirus-themed opportunistic social engineering attacks.

Additional details about the recommendations are available in the alert.

NERC registered entities are required to acknowledge receipt of the alert to NERC by March 12. 

A valid response in the NERC Alert System consists of the following three steps by the submitting entity:

  • Acknowledgement of Alert -- March 12, 2020
  • Responses to questions via the NERC Alert System by March 20, 2020
  • Approval of response

For non-registered entities, the alert is for situational awareness and for use in updating business continuity plans.

Federal agencies

Various federal agencies are also taking action in response to COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up a webpage dedicated to COVID-19 related topics.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” to help companies respond in the event of coronavirus in the workplace. The guidance was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The document provides practical guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus, and contains information on safe work practices and appropriate personal protective equipment based on the risk level of exposure.