April 2, 2020 Update
As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads into New England and Vermont, VELCO continues use available data to make changes to protect the health and safety of our employees, ensure power system reliability, and maintain essential business operations. VELCO is following its Business Continuity and Emergency Response Plans, and guidelines set by the CDC and has implemented the following measures:
- Control room - Divided system operations shifts between main control room and backup control room as part of strategy to keep transmission system operators separated to lessen virus exposure and outbreak risk. Limited control room access only to control room staff. Implemented enhanced cleanings of control rooms between shifts.
- Grid operator coordination - Regular communication with ISO-New England and Vermont distribution utilities for continued in-state grid operation coordination. Also engaging with regional utilities and national trade groups to share information and best practices for implementing new operating procedures in response to COVID-19.
- Field work - Instituted temporary halt of all fieldwork to assess risk. Adapted and updated work procedures in light of pandemic. Implemented safety protocols allowing for emergency work and substation inspections related to system reliability.
- Construction projects - In process of re-baselining capital project work consistent with our public service obligations of safe operation, reliable service, fiduciary responsibilities, and public health obligations – including new social distancing protocols.
- Scenario planning - Developing high-level work plans for work above the revised baseline, given uncertainty over the duration of COVID-19 measures to adapt our existing work management processes to be agile enough to deal with the new uncertainties.
- Cyber security - Maintaining cyber threat vigilance, as well as monitoring overall levels of fiber network utilization and capacity.
- Energy use - Developing an initial assessment of COVID-19 impacts on overall in-state energy usage in response to declining consumer demand.
March 16, 2020 Update
As part of our commitment to safety, VELCO is closely monitoring developments related to COVID-19 and taking precautions to protect the health and wellbeing of our employees and maintain critical business operations. Because of the potential risks associated with COVID-19 outbreak, VELCO is following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and implementing these precautions:
- Remote work - We have asked employees who can work from home to do so for now to further reduce the risks posed by COVID-19.
- Field work - We have suspended all construction, routine maintenance and field work. We will remain fully capable to respond to emergencies, alarms, or outages.
- Limiting access to buildings - We have restricted visitors to VELCO facilities and canceled all upcoming meetings with outside guests. Visitors are asked to please modify their plans and conduct their business with VELCO employees remotely.
- Remote meetings and travel - We are canceling large gatherings and utilizing conference calls and video conferencing to stay in touch on common projects and work. Business-related travel is suspended until further notice.
- Follow safety precautions - We have enhanced cleaning protocols at our facilities, and encouraged employees to adopt healthy habits and to stay home if sick.
VELCO will continue delivering the reliable power needed to keep the lights on. Above all, stay safe and follow all precautions advised by your state health department.
Don’t fall for scams. The World Health Organization has warned that scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 outbreak by sending phishing emails, texts and social media posts. Be on the lookout for these scams asking for personal information and never click on malicious links or attachments. Visit the resource links below for the most up-to-date information.