Hammett: Utility Workers and Service Providers Continue to Power Alabama

Hammett: Utility Workers and Service Providers Continue to Power Alabama

By: Seth Hammett, Chairman of the Energy Institute of Alabama

Vast amounts of normal services have been interrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the situation evolves and uncertainty remains, one thing that Alabamians can count on is for the lights to come on when they flip the switch.

With many in our state working remotely, children engaging in virtual learning or caring for loved ones at home, it is imperative for the energy service they depend on to work. Additionally, it is critical that power is provided for the necessary services we are counting on to protect the safety and well-being of all Alabamians. This includes ensuring power is safely delivered to hospitals – rural and urban alike – that are providing care for those in need.

Utility companies have a long history of working to ensure the safety and comfort of the people of Alabama during times of crisis. Now, more than ever, energy providers are committed to maintaining reliable, safe and affordable power to businesses and individuals across the state.

Utility services are critical, essential services. The member and affiliate companies of the Energy Institute of Alabama (EIA) are proud to serve uninterrupted power during these uncertain times, especially to those in the medical field who are on the front lines battling this disease, as well as those most severely economically impacted. We are grateful to the heroic health care workers and to those who ensure power arrives at its final destination. There are selfless linemen, power plant workers, and support personnel who are working day-in and day-out to power our homes, our hospitals and our economy.

We can all take comfort knowing that our infrastructure is secure and that the state’s power providers share in a corporate responsibility to the communities in which they exist.

The member groups of EIA are willing to go above and beyond now and in the future. Our utility industry has always been willing to answer the call during times of devastation and uncertainty from hurricanes to tornadoes and everything in between. The COVID-19 response is no different.

Alabama Power has pledged $1 million from the company’s Foundation to community organizations and workforce efforts to combat COVID-19. Alabama Power has also partnered with the University of Alabama system, including the UAB School of Engineering and UA’s Alabama Productivity Center, to make medical face shields to help protect front line health care workers.

In north Alabama, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is providing $1 billion of credit support for local power companies as well as donating facemasks to healthcare facilities.

Additionally, local electric coops are providing Wi-Fi hotspots for students in their communities to continue learning through the use of technology. The EIA members groups know that increased connectivity is vitally important for the 21st century world that we live in, especially in light of COVID-19’s impact on the remote workforce and virtual learning. Ensuring internet for all, especially in the rural parts of our state, will continue to be a major priority for EIA.

The crews and field representatives of EIA member groups are practicing safe social distancing and the companies have sought the public’s help to maintain safe social distances that allow employees to safely continue to serve customers, including during the around-the-clock work to restore power across Alabama following the Easter Sunday storms.

We are proud to stand with Governor Ivey, Lt. Governor Ainsworth, Attorney General Steve Marshall and all our state leaders during this time. Our member utility companies in Alabama are continuing in their unwavering commitment to the people of this state. While this time is unprecedented and challenging for us all, utilities will continue to be the cornerstone that strengthens, and powers, our state

Seth Hammett is chairman of the Energy Institute of Alabama and vice president of business development for PowerSouth Energy. Hammett spent 32 years in the Alabama House of Representatives, including 12 years as Speaker of the House. Visit https://energyinstituteal.org/ for more information.