Our routine way of life can change so quickly. As I pen this article the first of April, I do not know what the conditions will be like when you read this. Hopefully, and prayerfully, our communities and world have improved vastly by the time you read this in early May.
But today, our state is under a “stay at home” order due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Many businesses are closed with employees furloughed or laid off indefinitely. Only businesses considered “essential” by the government’s definition are open.
Schools have been closed for almost three weeks and transitioned to on-line learning in an amazingly short period of time. Restaurant dining rooms are closed with only drive thru, pickup or delivery available. Grocery, big box and convenience stores are open but there’s a lot of empty shelves.
For 82 years, your cooperative has responded to the worst of storms in order to serve the members. This is no different.
Online purchases of basic necessities are very limited or unavailable. Heading to the barbershop or salon is not an option, they’re closed. Even attending church is limited but many are using technology and being creative to share the gospel message that brings real hope and strength that our nation, state and communities need during this unprecedented time. Oh, the little things we have taken for granted for so long.
This is a short list of the immense impact from COVID-19 on our nation, our economy, our families and our health. Who would have thought our lives would have changed this dramatically just three short weeks ago?
Most of our members are spending a lot more time at home with many working remotely, kids continuing their education online and a greater dependence on the businesses that are open to serve the life sustaining needs of the public. During times like this, it’s even more critical for Randolph EMC to keep the lights on and serve our members and communities.
To address the critical need for business continuity at your cooperative, to protect the health of our members and employee team and to slow the transmission of the virus, we have taken proactive steps to ensure there is no disruption to our business operations.
A very difficult decision for me was to close our offices’ lobbies to walk-in traffic. But I knew it was the right thing to do. I like being accessible to our members whether you stop by the office or call in. If you call into the office and want to speak to the me, you are transferred directly to my desk phone. The calls are not screened.
Currently, the drive thru at the Asheboro office is open. By the time you read this, if the virus continues to expand, it may be closed with just the drop box available. A significant portion of our office workforce are working from home. Those working from home and in the office are answering your calls and serving your needs as in the past. There is a reporting rotation for our office personnel to allow for isolation of the work force as much as possible.
Safety and social distancing procedures have been implemented for our line and contract personnel. This group is on the front line of restoring power and meeting our members’ needs in the field. We are doing everything reasonably possible to limit their exposure to each other and the general public. I’m sure you can imagine the implications for the cooperative if COVID-19 were widespread in our work force and the challenges it would bring.
Your Board of Directors has taken action on a couple of critical measures to support the membership during this very difficult time, as well.
1First, they voted to accelerate this year’s capital credits retirement by two months in order to get the money to you when you need it most. By the time you read this, you should have received your capital credits check or, if the amount was less than $20, a credit will be applied to the bill during the normal billing cycle.
2In addition, your board elected to voluntarily suspend charging late fees or performing disconnects for unpaid bills through the COVID-19 crisis. This was put in place weeks in advance of an executive order from the Governor mandating these measures for utilities.
I encourage members who may have difficulty paying their electric bills to contact our office to make payment arrangements. Even with late fees and disconnections suspended, bills are not being waived, and we want to work with you to avoid accumulating a large balance that may be more difficult to pay when this crisis subsides. We can also share energy saving tips that will help you reduce your energy usage and power bill.
3The board also felt it best to cancel the Annual Meeting that was scheduled for June 19th, and the committee meetings associated with it. Our hope is to reschedule it later in the year. We will announce the new date once it has been determined. Please stay connected to us through RandolphEMC.com, Facebook and Twitter for the latest information.
For 82 years, your cooperative has responded to the worst of storms in order to serve the members. This is no different. The spirit of commitment and service is as strong today as ever. We are here for you and your families throughout this uncertain time. We will get through this together!
As always, we appreciate the opportunity to serve you. Thank you for the patience and trust you have shown.Cooperatively Yours in Safety,
Dale F. Lambert Chief Executive Officer
Learn more about Randolph Electric Membership Corporation.