Frequently Asked Questions
What has Hawaiian Electric done to prepare for this situation?
Hawaiian Electric has conducted business continuity exercises that helped them plan day-to-day operations in a pandemic. They’re working closely with federal, state and county emergency response agencies and we’ve taken steps to keep our employees healthy and on the job and to keep customers safe. Many employees are working from home and they have temporarily closed our walk-in service centers until March 30. But they are still available on the phone and online for services like stopping/starting electric service and billing questions. Hawaiian Electric crews are still working to keep our grid strong and reliable, and they’re available to respond to outages.
For more information, see the Hawaiian Electric website.
What guidance has been issued to industry to ensure energy reliability amid potential coronavirus impacts?
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), in consultation with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as well as the DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued guidance to provide additional flexibility to operators and staff to help ensure continued operations. Operators for transportation including hazardous liquid and gas pipeline, underground natural gas storage, liquefied natural gas, and bulk electric systems are focusing their resources on keeping people safe and providing critical services during this unprecedented public health emergency. Additional guidance: PHMSA Stay of Enforcement, Guidance for State Partners, and the NERC and FERC Industry Guidance to Ensure Grid Reliability.
NERC issued a special report Pandemic Preparedness and Operational Assessment assessing the reliability considerations and operational preparedness of the bulk power system owners and operators during pandemic conditions in April and May 2020. NERC included spring, summer and longer-term risks, but did not identify any specific threats or degradation to the reliable operation of the bulk power supply at this time.
How can my company acquire testing for essential personnel?
On April 27, 2020 the CDC updated the criteria to guide evaluation and laboratory testing priorities. The new guidance identifies two categories; High Priority and Priority. Decisions about testing remain at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians. The new guidance includes screening of persons without symptoms if prioritized by state or local plans.
CESER is working with multiple FEMA task forces and federal, industry and state partners to identify new testing options and best practices as they become available. Energy industry suppliers and infrastructure operators are identifying “essential” and “mission essential” employees for prioritized COVID-19 testing. More information regarding prioritized testing requests can be found in this industry letter to national organizations representing state and local government leaders. The Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council also updated Testing and Protecting Mission Essential Control Center and Generation Facility Personnel.
On April 23, 2020, CISA released guidance for operations centers and control rooms across the 16 critical infrastructure sectors, including energy, required to operate in a pandemic environment. The guidance recommends prioritized testing by medical professionals for asymptomatic personnel performing essential jobs in support of operations centers and control rooms. Some states have begun prioritizing testing of non-symptomatic essential energy workers prior to sequestration.
What guidance is available for energy sector personnel & social distancing?
Protective measures for access to homes and businesses in restricted areas should follow CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance:
– CDC Pandemic Influenza Resources
– CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
– OSHA COVID-19 Worker Safety; Guidance on Preparing Workplaces; Control and Prevention
OSHA released guidance for workers performing in-home repairs services.
Non-essential work orders at customer homes or businesses that require workers to enter may be deferred or postponed when possible to preserve PPE for essential emergency work and to protect the health and safety of personnel.
Please check back frequently to see new and updated resources.
Plan for sector reopening (coming soon)
The Navigator’s office is actively working with a diverse set of representatives from across this industry to develop industry-specific reopening health guidelines. These health guidelines are designed to help businesses prepare for reopening by providing clear guidance on key topics including, but not limited to:
- Cleaning and sanitizing
- Employee health and personal hygiene
- Customer expectations
- Social distancing
- Facility safety
- Employee support
We are also compiling industry best practices and other material to help support you over the coming months. Please check back soon for updates!