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Power Companies Taking Steps to Protect Workers, Customers from Coronavirus

Peter Key's picture
Freelance Writer, Editor, Consultant Self-employed

I've been a business journalist since 1985 when I received an MBA from Penn State. I covered energy, technology, and venture capital for The Philadelphia Business Journal from 1998 through 2013....

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  • Mar 30, 2020
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To keep their customers safe, electric distribution utilities occasionally remind them that if someone shows up at their door and says he’s a utility worker, they should ask for his identification.

These days, unfortunately, there likely will be another way for customers to validate that he works for their utility: if he does, he’ll stay six feet away from them unless he’s wearing protective equipment.

“Employees traveling for customer calls are taking precautions through use of protective equipment, if needed, as well as practicing social distancing by keeping six feet from themselves and customers,” Delmarva Power & Light Senior Communications Specialist Tim Stokes told the Delaware Business Times.

Utilities also are reducing the number of customer calls their employees make. Tampa Electric and Duke Energy Florida told The Tampa Bay Times they plan to limit physical interaction with customers by rescheduling non-essential visits.

Electric power companies are also having their employees who work in the field take precautions to limit the likelihood they transmit the coronavirus to each other. Delaware Electric Cooperative told the Delaware Business Times it is keeping the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for social distancing and washing hands in mind when it sends workers out to service equipment.

Like their counterparts in many other industries, companies in the electric power industry are encouraging employees who can work from home to do so. That can create some security risks, so companies need to be sure the employees are following whatever policies they have in place for telecommuting.

NBC News Better asked some digital security experts what precautions they think first-time telecommuters could take. The results, which probably weren’t anything that electric companies’ information technology departments haven’t thought of, included using equipment issued by their employer when possible; following the procedures specified by their employer to log on to their employer’s network; and using communications platforms designated by their employer.

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