Here for You in Uncertain Times
It’s often amidst unprecedented change that it becomes apparent what we can truly count onBy Jeff Clark
If someone had approached you in January and said that in the near future you would be spending weeks under guidance to stay at home, local businesses would be shuttered and travel ground to a halt, would you have believed them? I know I would not have. But the unbelievable has become our shared reality. Every community in North Carolina has been touched by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll no doubt feel its effects for a long time to come, in ways we have not yet even anticipated.
It’s often amidst unprecedented change that it becomes apparent what we can truly count on. We can take comfort in things that remain the same, such as the strength of families and doing whatever it takes to keep loved ones healthy. We can take comfort in our first responders and medical professionals, selflessly putting the welfare of others ahead of their own well-being. We can take comfort in our local businesses, adapting to serve community needs however they can. And you can take comfort in your electric cooperative, keeping the lights on and supporting members and communities, no matter what may be bearing down on us.
You can take comfort in your electric cooperative, keeping the lights on and supporting members and communities, no matter what may be bearing down on us.
Electric service is not optional. Like a sufficient supply of food and water, reliable electricity is critical, especially in times like this — both to ensure your health and safety, and to simply maintain some sense of normalcy as we are requested to stay in our homes. Despite all the uncertainties of these times, you can be certain that your electric co-op is working around the clock to ensure power is delivered with a focus on community, affordability, reliability and safety as our ongoing, top priorities.
Electric cooperatives in North Carolina are supporting members and taking proactive actions to respond to impacts from the coronavirus in their communities. Because we are a part of your community, we are working with members, employees and local organizations to meet local needs. These measures include creating internet hotspots to make online learning accessible to students, making donations to food banks and other charitable organizations, donating supplies to medical providers, sharing learning resources for parents and students to utilize while schools are closed, and much more.
Nonprofit electric co-ops are locally owned and operated, charged with keeping costs low for our members. This charge is especially important in times like these, when unemployment is soaring and budgets may be stretched thinner than ever. We recognize that there will be an economic impact on all of us. Because of this, cooperatives are working directly with members to ease financial hardships. Know that whatever your financial situation, your electric co-op has several programs in place to make managing your energy use and budget easier. Just give them a call.
There is some renewed comfort in this concept, with seemingly every day bringing life-altering developments. But electric co-ops are geared for providing reliable service. In the early days of the outbreak, electric co-ops across the state adapted policies or enacted existing pandemic emergency plans to protect employees while enabling them to maintain the same level of reliable service you have come to expect from us.
The North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation (NCEMC), our generation and transmission cooperative that supplies NC electric co-ops with all or part of their power needs, is taking careful measures to ensure its workforce is healthy and its power plants are functioning as needed. NCEMC is also closely monitoring other sources of purchased power, ensuring those sources remain resilient and reliable if we needed to call on them.
Keeping our employees and our members safe is always a top priority, but this pandemic has electric co-ops approaching it in a new way. Lobbies have been closed in favor of other, safer payment options such as online, over the phone or in some cases via drive-thru. Those co-op employees who can are working from home. For those who do need to work on-site or in the field, social distancing and a clean work environment are utmost priorities.
These are certainly unprecedented times for us all, but know that your electric cooperative is out there working diligently with you in mind. Stay safe, and stay healthy. We will get through this together, the cooperative way.
About the AuthorJeff Clark is CEO for Jones-Onslow EMC in Jacksonville and was recently seated as president of the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives.