The strong response of public power to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also successfully managing power restoration efforts in response to recent storms, is extremely helpful to the American Public Power Association’s ongoing congressional outreach efforts, said Joy Ditto, APPA’s President and CEO, on June 9.
She made her comments during a session at APPA’s Public Power Connect: Virtual Summit & Business Meeting where she made herself available to officials from member utilities for questions and conversation.
“I don’t think all of our priorities are off the table completely,” Ditto said in reference to legislation of importance to public power beyond COVID-19 relief. “They’ve just kind of been shifted or slowed down slightly.” (APPA government relations staff provided summit participants with an overview of public power’s legislative priorities this week.)
While acknowledging that the pandemic has been a serious challenge to the power sector, Ditto went on to say that “the industry has performed incredibly well and I think that’s the silver lining for us in Congress” because it allows for the sector to highlight how well it is doing “to keep the lights on in the crisis.”
And it’s not just COVID-19 that the power sector has been grappling with in recent months, she noted. Utilities have also had to respond to storms and tornadoes and implement mutual aid activities as part of power restoration efforts.
Taken as a whole, “I think this paints a really good picture of our industry and specifically of public power because some of those storms” hit public power utilities particularly hard, Ditto said.
“We can tell that story and that really just helps our cause overall” whether that involves making sure public power’s voice is heard during the drafting of another COVID-19 relief bill or as “we continue to pursue some of our other priorities.”
Ditto urges members to provide financial data related to pandemic’s impact
Meanwhile, Ditto urged APPA members to provide the Association with data related to the financial impacts they are seeing from the pandemic.
She highlighted the fact that APPA has sent out surveys seeking this information from member utilities.
“When it comes to dealing with COVID-19, we need to have really strong data about what our members are experiencing on the ground,” she said.