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Leading during COVID-19

Chris Meyers
General Manager
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

 

When the new decade unfolded a few months ago, none of us could foresee the difficult times we would experience as the novel coronavirus (or COVID-19) first exposed itself in far-away countries, and eventually in the United States and in our state, cities, communities and even neighborhoods. The virus has caused much disruption to virtually every aspect of our day-to-day lives; as a result, we all have had to adapt to a new normal, working together to “flatten the curve” and do our part to keep more lives safe during this global pandemic crisis.

In the midst of trying circumstances, your electric cooperative also had to adjust its day-to-day operations to ensure your lights stay on, and you continue to enjoy safe, reliable and affordable electricity. Co-op employees are no stranger to challenging situations; they work in challenging conditions including ice storms, floods, wildfires, in the aftermath of tornadoes and even dealing with vehicle crash situations. The truth is, co-op employees are not only well trained to provide the best quality service to consumers, they have servant hearts and genuinely care about their fellow co-op members.

In our commitment to provide this essential service to you, Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives have collectively incorporated different measures to ensure the safety of their employees and members; they have also updated emergency preparedness plans to manage risks and effectively anticipate and prepare for potential scenarios. Following Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) guidelines, electric cooperatives have closed their lobbies to the public while providing various means for interaction with members via mobile and digital platforms; most co-ops have implemented strategies for employees to work from home when feasible while not compromising the quality service that is delivered to you each day; still other co-ops have temporarily suspended disconnects and are working with members on a case-by-case basis to assist individuals or families who have been directly impacted by COVID-19, with the understanding that members are still responsible for their electric bill.

During this time of many unknowns, co-ops continue to innovate, adapt and lead with care and compassion. At the core of your electric cooperative, we understand that we are neighbors helping neighbors and will continue to care for one another and ensure your lights stay on. OKL Article End

 

The power of togetherness

Tim Smith
President
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

In the electric utility industry, the month of May has been designated “Electrical Safety Month.” While it is fitting to have a month set apart to reinforce this important message, maintaining a culture of safety is a priority for each of Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives, every day of the year. This commitment remains stronger than ever as electric cooperatives in our state and nation face unprecedented times with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

Caring for the communities they serve is imperative to electric cooperatives. As an invested partner in your community, your co-op genuinely cares about the well-being of your family, neighbors and loved ones. That is why co-ops have implemented several measures to ensure the safety of each employee as well as members. Co-ops have emergency preparedness plans that address business continuity in times of crisis; these plans are updated as needed and are designed to protect the people who keep your lights on and to ensure energy operations and infrastructure are supported properly throughout an emergency.

The evolving pandemic crisis impacts everyone, and we are in this together. During this difficult time, it’s vital for your electric cooperative to ensure you continue to enjoy the essential service of electricity. This involves making sure that we work in a safe manner and that we help to inform members about the importance of safety around electricity. On Page 12 of this edition of Oklahoma Living, you will read an article about the Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program (RESAP), and how this program assists every electric cooperative in Oklahoma to prioritize safety.

While most of us are staying home more often, we encourage you to take time to prepare safety plans for your family, such as safety during a pandemic or during storms and natural disasters that could leave behind hidden electrical hazards, such as downed power lines and submerged electrical devices. For helpful resources on this topic, we encourage you to visit www.SafeElectricity.org, where you’ll find information presented in videos, interactive games for children, online teacher resources and much more.

Electric cooperatives value your safety and well-being and we’ll continue to educate co-op members on important safety considerations. Our members are worth every effort. Stay safe and stay well. OKL Article End