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Grid Operators Provide Living Accommodation to Keep Lights On

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Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

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  • Apr 23, 2020
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COVID-19 is stretching the ingenuity of generating enterprises to their limits. In the case of utilities, it is not possible to furlough the generators and staff need to be at work. In both the USA and UK two organizations are creating accommodation so essential workers can keep the lights on.

New York’s grid operator, New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), has moved 37 workers into living facilities at two sites to ensure continuity of power production, while keeping people safe and at a distance from each other. When not at work they have sleeping, eating and recreation facilities in trailers on NYISO's main site in East Greenbush and the alternate site in Guilderland. Before they entered the program all personnel were screened for the virus and are adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Similarly the UK's National Grid is creating a “mini village” with temporary sleeping pods and washing, eating and recreation areas for around 70 control room staff to guarantee the flow of gas and electricity around Britain. Although many employees are working from home, some roles can only be performed on-site.

Nicola Shaw, National Grid Executive Director, UK, says, “All our operational sites are secure with a wide range of resilience and security measures. Our control centers have fully operational back-up locations and our engineers are trained across multiple roles. These measures have been strengthened further with a range of additional measures to segregate our critical employees. Visitor access to our electricity and gas control rooms has been ceased. We have comprehensive and well-developed procedures in place to manage the effects of a pandemic and do not anticipate any issues in continuing to reliably supply gas and electricity.”

Sara Habib, Head of Workplace Services, says, “National Grid has a critical role in keeping the country’s power and gas flowing in these challenging times. Our control rooms are the beating heart of our networks, so we’ve been working hard to ensure our teams have everything they need to get the job done and that they and their loved ones are kept safe.”

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