Despite the hardships and health risks, millions of essential frontline workers continue to do their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve seen first responders, healthcare workers and grocery store employees working hard each day to make sure our region continues to function amid the stay-at-home order. Because the energy sector is considered vital to the stability and safety of our country, our frontline employees are no exception.
Safety on the Frontlines
While we continue to perform critical work to deliver energy safely and reliably, the health and safety of our employees and customers remain our highest priority. Field crews and those who must enter customer homes and businesses are taking the utmost care to implement additional hygiene measures. These include social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment, such as disposable nitrile gloves and face coverings.
At construction sites, crews are separated into smaller groups and hand-washing stations have been added. To minimize exposure, employees are driving solo in company vehicles vs. sharing rides.
It’s important to keep in mind that the work our crews are conducting in the field is not one size fits all. Crews responding to calls have different responsibilities that will impact if or how closely they will interact with customers. For example, a member of our gas crew who responds to a gas leak call might need to enter a customer’s home, while a “first responder” to an outage, who assesses potential damage to our infrastructure, likely won’t interact closely with customers. While our crews have different levels of responsibility, we can assure you that crews who must enter customer homes are taking the safety measures in place to protect themselves and our customers very seriously.
Public Safety Emergencies and Wildfire Mitigation
You may see our crews in the field as we continue to carry out critical construction projects, such as replacing wood poles with steel poles, to reduce wildfire risks in the backcountry, and doing maintenance and repair work necessary to prevent service disruptions. Our crews are also continuing to respond to customer service orders, such as when they need their gas or electric service to be turned on and off, and for emergencies, such as power outages and gas line breaks.
Below are examples of some of the types of work our employees continue to perform during the pandemic:
- Vegetation management, including tree trimming and brush clearance, which is needed to reduce wildfire risk.
- Wildfire-safety related upgrades to the electric infrastructure, such replacing wood poles with steel poles, installing sectionalizing devices to minimize the impact of Public Safety Power Shutoffs
- Building microgrids to keep vulnerable communities or critical operations powered during Public Safety Power Shutoffs
- Responding to gas leaks or reports of carbon monoxide
- Construction on the Line 1600 natural gas pipeline safety projects
SDG&E, and the utility industry as a whole, has a lot of experience managing crises, and while COVID-19 is different, we are well prepared. You can rest assured, we will continue to deliver energy safely and reliably during this challenging time.
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