As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, Great River Energy is taking precautions to protect the health and well-being of its employees to ensure the co-op is prepared to keep the lights on for 1.7 million Minnesotans.
Great River Energy has implemented its response plan, which includes enacting social distancing practices. Employees who can work from home are doing so as of Friday, March 13, while supplies such as cots, sleeping bags and food are being provided to the cooperative’s power plant and system operations control room operators in case they are required to shelter in place at any time.
The co-op’s pandemic team meets daily and continuously monitors the situation. Team members have taken steps to educate employees about how they can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and completed an assessment of the co-op’s pandemic inventory and supplies as well.
“While this is an unprecedented situation, we regularly practice and review our emergency response procedures,” said Great River Energy President and CEO David Saggau. “The plans we have in place allow us to respond without pause and they are working well.”
Great River Energy is part of the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council, which facilitates coordination between the federal government and electric power industry specifically to prepare for and respond to events such as this pandemic.
The electric cooperative has also reviewed its staffing needs to ensure it has the right people in critical roles to provide continued reliable electric service.
“We have stepped up cleaning and sanitizing in critical areas at our facilities such as control rooms,” said Mike McFarland, director of enterprise risk management for Great River Energy. “We are also implementing social distancing practices to protect our employees, such as by restricting visitors and holding meetings via teleconference rather than in person whenever possible.”
As there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus and by taking general precautions.
Here are four simple reminders provided by the Centers for Disease Control:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
- Cover your mouth and nose, then wash your hands if you sneeze or cough. Throw out any soiled tissues.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home if you are ill, except to get medical care. Limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting others.