9 Heartwarming Utility Initiatives in Response to COVID-19 that Exceeded Expectations
July 2, 2020 | Blog
As states start easing restrictions to limit the spreading of the coronavirus, hopes are soaring that we may get our lives back. We should recognize some of the remarkable actions energy providers took to support their customers and communities, employees, and public health during the pandemic.
Thanks to their decades of experience with storm recovery and other emergencies, utilities are well-prepared to adjust and implement emergency response plans. Most -if not all- energy providers have undertaken heartwarming efforts to support customers that may be facing financial hardships, including suspending disconnection for nonpayment, expanding payment options, waiving late fees, and donating to coronavirus relief and recovery.
While the list is too long to name all, here are just a few examples of these altruistic actions:
- Lakeland Electric introduced the Coronavirus Payment Plan to give its customers who need up to six months to pay their outstanding utility bills and regain financial stability.
- Tampa Electric’s residential customers will see a 20% reduction on their summer bills, including an estimated $90 savings through December.
- Union Power Cooperative suspended disconnections for nonpayment. It is waiving late fees and penalties while also authorizing an early distribution of $3.48 million in capital credits.
- Xcel Energy is dedicating $20 million in new funding to support short- and long-term corporate giving across the eight states they serve, including support for COVID-19 recovery efforts. As part of their first $1.5 million donation, Xcel Energy launched a COVID-19 Disaster Response Matching Gifts Campaign that will triple employees’ contributions to eligible nonprofits.
In addition to these selfless acts, many utilities have exceeded expectations via unique initiatives during these unprecedented times:
- New Jersey Natural Gas partnered with Google and Energy Federation Inc. to provide nearly half a million free smart thermostats to their customer during the pandemic. “With customers spending more time at home in response to COVID-19, and warmer weather on the way, energy use and bills will be on the rise,” said Steve Westhoven, President and CEO of New Jersey Resources, the parent company of NJNG. “We’re here to help our customers by empowering them with the technology and tips they need to save energy and money and help protect the environment.”
- Constellation – an Exelon Company provided funding to help the Living Classrooms Crossroads School secure Google Chromebooks for every student keeping them on track and engaged during the quarantine. The contribution helped the school ensure that every student has full and equitable access to the online learning resources available through Crossroads’ digital learning library. In addition to the 163 middle school students, 48 2nd through 5th-grade students enrolled in Living Classrooms’ BUGS (Baltimore Urban Gardening with Students) after school program. Students also received a Chromebook to continue working through their reading, math, gardening, STEM, and creative arts curriculum with their educators.
- Lumbee River EMC has established multiple free Wi-Fi hot spots in its service territory to provide reliable internet for members and students who may not have access to broadband. Two hot spots are located at their co-op offices in Lumberton and Pembroke. The co-op has also partnered with the Shannon Volunteer Fire Department and Harpers Ferry Baptist Church to establish hot spots.
- Jones-Onslow EMC has launched Press Play and Learn, a video series highlighting various educational topics, that include family-friendly science experiments, conduct in the kitchen, and electrical safety. This helps parents and teachers continue education outside of the classroom.
- Xcel Energy provides its employees with paid time off to volunteer virtually sewing masks for donation, providing virtual tutoring and mentorship, and helping older adults shop online.
Apogee Interactive recognizes utilities’ vital role in keeping our country healthy and functioning!!