Powering Strong Communities

Information about COVID-19

Updated: April 7, 2020

There are a number of upcoming webinars for APPA members on COVID-19:

  • April 9 at 2 p.m. EDT - An APPA Briefing on Congressional Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Hear how three bills passed by Congress responding to the COVID-19 pandemic may help your utility and community during this national crisis and what issues may be addressed in future legislation. Learn more and register here.
  • April 9 at 3:30 p.m. EDT - The American Public Power Association will be hosting its fourth webinar for public power utilities to share best practices with regards to general pandemic planning, as well as preparations for COVID-19. Learn more and register here. 
  • April 13 at 2 p.m. EDT - COVID-19 Impacts on Utility Load, Generation, and Wholesale Markets. Learn how to to assess potential risks and identify opportunities when planning for the future to ensure all potential scenarios are taken into account. Learn more and register here.
  • April 15 at 2 p.m. EDT - Cyber Attacks: How to Protect Your Utility During the COVID-19 Crisis. The Departments of Homeland Security and Defense have reported a more than 400% spike in cyber “attacks” targeting energy utilities during the last 45 days. Hear the latest on this situation and receive practical guidance to assist you in protecting your utility. Learn more and register here.

Read a weekly digest of news on COVID-19 here.

The American Public Power Association—in coordination with our industry and government partners—continues to respond to the evolving COVID-19 situation. Additionally, public power utilities across the country continue to impress with their local responsiveness and resilience. You are prioritizing employee safety, stepping up service to customers, and—most importantly—keeping the power flowing in your communities at a time when they need it more than ever.

APPA remains committed to doing our part to protect the health and safety of our staff, membership and the public at large. All actions we have taken—and will take—will be in an effort to honor this commitment.

APPA conducted its first CEO/utility director conference call on April 1, which generated productive discussion on COVID-19 actions being taken by APPA’s utility members. Future calls and virtual events are anticipated to keep this important group updated on APPA activities. In addition, APPA launched a CEO/utility director listserv to provide an additional forum for utility executives to interact with each other on a real-time basis. Contact [email protected] for additional details.

Last week we rolled out a new “APPA Resources of the Week” digest to help you navigate the steady stream of information that is likely coming at you from all angles. This is a quick summary of the top resources, tools and news stories. The second edition can be accessed here.

Government Relations and Policy Activities

Late last week, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the third, and likely not the final, federal legislative response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Our government relations team has reviewed the legislation and provided a summary of the provisions of interest to public power, which includes additional funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, bridge loans to state and local governments, financial assistance to small businesses that can be used to pay utility bills, and delayed payment of employer payroll taxes by state and local governments, among others. On Friday, April 3 at 2:00 p.m. ET, APPA will host a free webinar for utility members that walks through what is in the CARES Act, as well as what we expect to be included in a fourth COVID-19 bill currently being developed by the House. The fourth bill is expected to include provisions to stimulate the economy through investments in infrastructure, as well as additional emergency funding.The team continues to respond to inquiries on power shutoffs from the Hill and outside interests and is keeping congressional offices apprised of joint efforts by the electric sector to keep the lights on and utility workers protected. In addition, APPA will be pushing for the inclusion of public power priorities in the fourth COVID-19 bill.

APPA will also host a second free webinar for members on Monday, April 6 at 2:00 p.m. ET to discuss the changes made to the Family Medical Leave Act and sick pay in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. These changes will impact public power utilities.

APPA continues to track COVID-19-related developments at federal agencies. On March 26, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued guidance on COVID-19 pandemic implications for EPA’s enforcement and compliance assurance programs. On April 2, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced a number of additional actions in response to the COVID-19 emergency, including adopting a policy that FERC will act expeditiously on requests for relief in response to the emergency, extending certain filing deadlines, and promising to take the emergency into account in evaluating compliance programs. Press releases describing FERC’s actions are available here and here.

APPA Meetings

Given the evolving situation, we continue to assess all APPA events and make decisions on upcoming events on a case-by-case basis.

At this time, the following events have been cancelled:

  • CEO Roundtable (April 5-7 in Phoenix, Arizona)
  • Lineworkers Rodeo (April 17-18 in Bonner Springs, Kansas)
  • Engineering & Operations Conference (April 19-22 in Kansas City, Missouri)
  • Spring Institute (May 4-8 in Columbus, Ohio) - We hope to reschedule this event for later in the summer and to offer some virtual options for these classes in the spring. 

While we have had to cancel several events, we are now looking to the future. APPA has been offering virtual training in the form of webinars for many years and released an online version of the Key Accounts Certificate Program earlier this year.

While we look forward to being able to hold events in-person—hopefully in the near future—we are quickly shifting our efforts to providing quality training in new ways to help members stay abreast of issues pertaining to the electric utility industry, maintain their professional certifications, and work effectively, particularly in these changing times.

The Accounting & Finance Spring Roundtable (April 23-24) and Business Intelligence & Data Analytics Workshop (May 19-20) will be held as Virtual Workshops with the same program and speakers as originally planned.

Regarding the National Conference in June, we are continually monitoring information from the state and federal governments, hotels and the hosting convention center, as well as from our members regarding travel policies, in order to make as informed a decision as possible. Given the variables at the moment, we do not plan to make a decision before mid-April unless we know something before then that would make it absolutely impossible to move forward.

As we look forward, we are committed and prepared to offer education and training in ways that meet the needs of our members in the format that works best for them, whether that be virtual and online, in-house or in-person (when that option returns).

If you have any questions about APPA meetings or events, please reach out to [email protected].

Federal Government and Industry Partner Activities on Response to COVID-19

APPA continues to work with our members, the electric utility industry, and our government partners to gather and share up-to-date information, best practices and guidance to help our members stay safe and maintain operational integrity. As part of this effort, we are holding a weekly webinar for members to collaborate on this issue. We have launched a COVID-19 listserv for members to share information pertaining to the pandemic. For more information on the webinar series or the new listserv, email [email protected]. We also have a page on APPA’s website dedicated to COVID-19 activities.

We are working with others on the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC). The ESCC, on which APPA also serves, is the principal liaison between the federal government and the electric power industry on certain high-level resilience and response issues such as pandemics. The ESCC has formed seven “tiger teams” to focus on control center continuity, access to restricted areas, supply chain, mutual assistance, generation continuity, and—the newest additions—IT/telecommunications and external messaging. These teams are staffed up with industry experts, including from public power utilities, who are looking at these specific aspects of the pandemic response and working to bring specific industry needs to our federal government partners. Additionally, working with APPA and others, the ESCC has recently updated its resources to include key messages for industry leaders and a guide to include best practices. This is version 3 of the guide, which now includes sections on generation facilities, supply chain, and sequestration. Updated and new information since version 2 is highlighted in the guide for quick reference.  

These tools are available at ElectricitySubsector.org and will be updated as necessary.

We urge everyone to stay tuned to the CDC and the World Health Organization for the most reliable information.

For guidance from the Department of Homeland Security on risk management, please check out their Risk Management for COVID-19 document and recommendations on Defending against COVID-19 Cyber Scams.

If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].

APPA remains committed to serving the public power community during these difficult times while taking the proper precautions to protect the health and safety of our staff.