Disaster Response and Mutual Aid

ESCC checklist offers utilities guidance on mutual assistance during COVID-19

The Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council has developed a checklist designed to provide host and responding investor-owned electric companies, public power utilities and electric cooperatives guidance on how to conduct mutual assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Investor-owned electric companies, electric cooperatives, and public power utilities are committed to protecting the people working for them and to ensuring energy operations and infrastructure are supported throughout an emergency,” the ESCC noted.

Members of the American Public Power Association’s Mutual Aid Working Group provided input on the document.

The items in the checklist can help provide guidance for mutual assistance efforts while protecting the health and safety of employees, customers, and communities. The practices are suggested for all organizations, regardless of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the area. 

The ESCC said the checklist may be used when providing mutual assistance for outage incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also may be used when providing mutual assistance if a host organization is so impacted by COVID-19 cases that it is not able to conduct normal daily operations without assistance.

The checklist covers the following areas:

  • Work practices
  • General COVID-19 safety practices
  • Staging sites
  • Lodging and meals
  • External outreach and communication
  • Health issues

The document also includes links to Centers for Disease Control recommendations in the following areas: interim guidance for business and employers, cleaning and disinfection recommendations, what to do if you are sick and guidance for large events.

The checklist will be included in the ESCC’s Resource Guide, which is in the process of being updated. The Resource Guide will be a living document and updates can be found here: https://www.electricitysubsector.org/.

If American Public Power Association members think of any issues, challenge, or ideas that they believe should be included in the Resource Guide, they should send an email to: [email protected]

Power industry has been planning for years for emergency like COVID-19 pandemic

The electric power industry has been planning for years for an emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as countless other types of emergencies, and the industry is coordinating closely with government partners through the ESCC to ensure that organizations have the resources they need to keep the lights on.

The ESCC is holding high-level coordination calls twice a week with senior leadership from the Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. These calls help ensure that industry and government work together to resolve any challenges that arise during this health emergency.

The ESCC quickly mobilized and established strategic working groups dedicated to identifying and solving for short-, medium-, and long-term issues facing the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The five current areas of focus are:

  • Continuity of operations at control centers
  • Continuity of operations at generation facilities
  • Access to, and operations in, restricted or quarantined areas
  • Protocols for mutual assistance
  • Supply chain challenges

APPA "continues to work with our community-owned public power members and our industry and government partners to gather and share up-to-date information, best practices, and guidance to support them in safely maintaining operational integrity,” said APPA President and CEO Joy Ditto.

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.

APPA has set up a webpage that provides information and resources for its members related to COVID-19 and updates on how this affects APPA programs and events.