As we all deal with the new realities brought on by the coronavirus, I want to assure you that your local electric cooperative is here to help you. We have always had an Emergency Plan that has served us well in a variety of circumstances, from ice storms to tornadoes to flash floods. Early in this crisis, our staff updated that plan with a special emphasis on ensuring we can continue to provide the reliable electric service you have come to expect from your electric cooperative.
So far, that is exactly what has happened. We know that after a sufficient supply of food and water, electricity is the No. 1 thing you need to maintain some sense of normalcy as we hunker down in our homes. With that in mind, keeping the power flowing is Job 1 for everyone involved in maintaining the electric cooperative system.
That starts with our generation cooperative, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation(AECC), which has taken extreme measures to ensure its workforce is healthy and its power plants are functioning as needed. It extends to the 17 distribution cooperatives that wheel that electricity across Arkansas, and it includes Craighead Electric Cooperative where business may be a bit unusual, but our service remains the same.
We thought you might want to know some of the steps we have taken in order to keep your power flowing. We’ve closed our lobbies to prevent the spread of germs. Instead, we are encouraging members to use our night deposit boxes, online payment options and the “good old” U.S. Postal Service to pay bills.
Many of our employees are working from home. We’ve divided departments into shifts so that they can practice social distancing even when in the office. If you call, the phones will be answered as always.
We have separated our line crews from other employees and even from each other to limit possible spread of the virus. Trucks are being relocated so that lineworkers can head to the job site without coming to the office. New routines are in place for contractors working on our system in order to keep them away from employees.
Our management team and board are meeting constantly to fine-tune this plan. We are in constant contact with the other electric cooperatives in Arkansas and with the Arkansas Electric Cooperative, Inc.(AECI), our statewide organization, which in turn is working closely with our national association, the state legislature, Governor Asa Hutchinson, and Arkansas Department of Emergency Management(ADEM).
So far, it is working well and everyone has adapted to the new norm. That’s because we’ve done this before. Nothing brings out the best in our employees better than a crisis situation. It’s kind of like gold that has been tested in fire…stronger and more beautiful!
Our focus here is on doing our part to keep your life as normal as possible through this situation and beyond. The cooperative way of doing business has brought us this far, and the cooperative way will help us through this crisis.
All the best to everyone. Stay healthy, stay home and we will get through this together the cooperative way!
Brian Duncan, CEO