PowerSouth implements pandemic plan

Published 6:45 pm Thursday, March 19, 2020

PowerSouth Energy Cooperative is part of one of the 16 industries labeled as “critical infrastructure sectors” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is responding to COVID-19 by implementing its pandemic plan.

“Our mission is to safely generate and transmit reliable, affordable electricity to our 20 distribution system members in 39 Alabama and 10 Northwest Florida counties,” said Gary Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of PowerSouth.  “Locally, everyone knows Covington Electric Cooperative, City of Opp Utilities and City of Andalusia Utilities—three of those 20 systems.”

“Like other businesses during these uncertain times of medical emergency, we are focused on keeping our employees safe and healthy while providing this vital service.”

In addition to adherence to pandemic operating precautions such as practicing good hygiene, requiring sick workers to stay home, curtailing business travel, and strictly limiting visitors to facilities, PowerSouth is setting up telework for some employees, Smith said.  This practice will begin on Monday, March 23.  PowerSouth is also planning to shelter in place essential employees who are unable to do their jobs from home, such as those that operate the power plants and the energy control center.

“If the situation worsens in the communities in which our facilities are located, we have plans to require critical operating employees to remain at work and be sequestered from the general population,” said Smith.  “Those people will remain in the facilities for a specified period of time.  We have resources to feed and house critical personnel for the first two weeks of sequestration and will be making arrangements for possible longer periods.  During this outbreak, we are following Center for Disease Control protocols for disinfecting facilities.”

Smith said PowerSouth is encouraging employees working from home to use caution in interacting in the community, in crowds and with the public, since those at home may be required to replace employees who are physically at work that become ill or who are otherwise unable to be there.  He added that the cooperative has resources to allow meetings to take place online or by telephone, rather than in person.

The chief executive said that PowerSouth has been in touch with utilities across the country taking similar steps.  “We understand that the quality of life during this difficult time rests even more heavily on access to energy, and we’re taking the necessary precautions to keep the lights on.”