Keeping the lights on through a pandemic

A Rocky Mountain Power crew works on a power line near Glenwood April 22. The company is working through the current pandemic.

With people being told to stay home, many companies have shut down or seen their business drastically cut due to the COVID-19 crisis.

However, for a utility like Rocky Mountain Power, the importance of providing electricity may be more important now than ever.

“We are dedicated to serving our customers in this crisis,” said Spencer Hall, spokesperson for RMP.

With more people staying at home, and in many cases working from home, it has shifted how electricity in the region is used.

“Lifestyle changes often impact electricity use, particularly in homes that are not normally occupied during the day,” Hall said. He said customers whose homes are normally unoccupied during the day will likely see the impact of daytime heating and cooling.

“To accommodate customers during this time, routine maintenance schedules have been modified to minimize any work that could cause large service interruptions,” Hall said. “Field employees and contractors are also clearing trees and plants away from poles and lines as part of the utility’s ongoing wildfire safety plan.”

RMP is also working to make sure power service remains consistent through the crisis. 

“Recently, governors in several of our states have started talking about plans toease social distancing measures and restart their economies as coronavirus cases begin to decline,” Hall said. “While this is encouraging, the schedule remains uncertain and we expect broad economic impacts to continue through the remainder of 2020 and beyond that will result inreduced electricity use by our customers.” 

As an essential service provider, Hall said RMP employees and contractors continue to meet obligations to work safely and follow company policies and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for avoiding transmission of the COVID-19 virus, including frequent hand washing, maintaining six feet of separation from others and cleaning/disinfecting high-usage surfaces on a regular basis.

“Our top priority is protecting the health of our employees and the community while we provide reliable power,” Hall said. He said the RMP offices are currently closed to the public, while employees are signing in and out remotely and cleaning work areas.

The economics of the crisis has resulted in many people filing for unemployment benefits or finding their pay and hours reduced, meanwhile RMP is temporarily suspending disconnects due to non-payment, waiving late fees, offering flexible payment arrangements and making referrals to resources made available through the government aid package.

More information on these programs is available on the company website under “bill payment assistance” at rockymountainpower.net. 

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