America's Power Industry United in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

America's Power Industry United in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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America is on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 90% of Americans are now under statewide stay-at-home orders, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised all Americans to “stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.”As our country reckons with the day-to-day effects of this new reality, it is increasingly important that people have seamless access to electricity—the lifeblood of almost all modern activities.  

Here at the American Public Power Association (APPA), we are monitoring this situation very closely. We expect home energy usage to continue to rise as Americans require more from the broad energy sector and more than 2,000 not-for-profit, community-owned public power utilities our association serves in 49 states. 

Right now, public power utilities are powering the lights, phones, televisions, computers, refrigerators, heating, and cooling systems that Americans are depending upon to get their information, communicate with loved ones and live their lives. They are also powering essential businesses like hospitals, grocery stores, communications centers, and other critical infrastructure. 

Our members are working in concert with local, state and federal government leaders to implement a united industry response.

In all of our efforts, APPA and our member public power utilities are joined with a common purpose: to maintain the operational integrity of our utilities while safeguarding the public’s health, safety and welfare. 

Our member utilities’ actions during this crisis reflect public power’s core purpose: to put our communities first. The people who live and work in the community make the decisions how their electric utilities are managed. 

Public power utilities are rooted in and committed to the communities they serve, and they invest any profits directly back into these communities. We recognize that all communities are different and appreciate the need for members to plot their own course. 

Public power utilities constantly plan for emergency situations that could threaten the reliability of the electric grid. Many have developed emergency preparedness plans based on similar experiences, lessons learned from these simulation exercises and consultation with experts.  Many of our members have enacted these emergency plans, which ensure continuity and support operations and critical infrastructure. Public power utilities are sharing best practices with each other and syncing up with other municipal utility functions like water, wastewater, and gas.

Public power draws its strength and resilience from the communities we serve. From small towns to big cities, our mission has always been to provide safe, reliable, low-cost, environmentally responsible electricity to more than 49 million Americans who we are privileged to call our friends and neighbors. 

The mission of the public power community continues unabated in these challenging times and we are fully committed to doing all we can to help our nation and our customers during the pandemic. 

Throughout the 100-plus year history of public power, we have powered America through numerous crises, including the Great Depression of the late 1930s and the Great Recession of the early 2010s; several national security challenges, including World War I, World War II and the terrorist attacks of September 11th; and countless times of national anxiety and uncertainty. We came out of those periods stronger than before because we banded together as an industry and as a community. It is my hope and firm belief that this same spirit will also see us through the current crisis stronger than ever before.

Joy Ditto is president and CEO of the American Public Power Association, a trade organization that advocates for the nation’s 2,000 community-owned, not-for-profit public power utilities, powering our homes and businesses. 

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