Morning Consult: Hidden Heroes Keeping The Lights On

By John Di Stasio 

When most of us flip on a light switch, we often don’t give it a second thought — we just expect it to work. But imagine if the power went out. In this new socially distant reality of ours, where most of us scarcely leave home, a power outage would create chaos and sever our connection to family, friends and work.

Reliable electricity is the common thread running through our new remote lifestyles, and thankfully there are utility company employees across the country working to make sure our homes, businesses and communities remain powered.

Engineers, systems operators, lineworkers, and the list goes on. Highly trained, these women and men are unsung heroes. They oversee the operation of thousands of power plants and millions of miles of transmission and distribution lines across America. They put their community’s needs above their own and keep us all connected.

Governed by local communities, public power systems are highly in tune with and responsive to the needs of their customers — it’s why we often say that that community is at the heart of public power’s mission to deliver reliable electricity.

The members of the Large Public Power Council, 27 of our nation’s largest nonprofit public power systems, are ensuring continuity of service for their collective 30 million customers while keeping workers healthy and safe, particularly those who are mission-critical and have to remain onsite.

From Seattle City Light to New York Power Authority, LPPC members were on the front lines as coronavirus first hit our country. As participants of our nation’s diverse municipal landscape, they worked with local and state governments, supported their communities, and kept the power on for millions across America.

Our members acted quickly to alleviate the financial burden experienced by families, businesses, and communities as a result of the pandemic. They suspended disconnects voluntarily, reconnected those already disconnected and are now offering a wide variety of options to help their customers through this time of hardship — including the waiving of late fees, expansion of assistance programs, and introduction of flexible payment plans.

However, with over 33 million Americans already filing for unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold, we know that further financial assistance is needed to ensure families can power, heat, and cool their homes as the economic fallout from the pandemic persists.

LPPC members urge Congress to act and provide federal support for customers paying their bills. One example, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, is a time-tested financial lifeline that helps hard-working Americans keep their lights on during challenging times.

The National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association recommends that Congress provide an additional $4.3 billion for LIHEAP in the next coronavirus relief package. The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition believes that these funds will allow states to serve approximately 11 million households, including newly laid-off workers, low-income families who were already struggling financially before this crisis and households with elderly members or pre-existing medical conditions who are sheltering in place with inadequate cooling measures at home. Just like the passage of direct relief for small business benefited the customers of public power, so too will the passage of this much-needed LIHEAP funding.

In contrast, any federally mandated disconnect or credit and collections policies will place public power systems and, in turn, our customers under further financial strain. While the motivations behind such policies are well intended, there are serious ramifications.

These one-size-fits-all policies limit flexibility and undermine public power’s ability to continue helping those in need. Instead, Congress ought to provide tangible support to struggling Americans through programs such as LIHEAP, offering certainty for both business and consumer.

As the pandemic progresses and the financial implications are brought to bear, the utility industry will experience difficulty reconciling a loss of load and an increase in financially distressed customers in need of aid. While public power, along with our dedicated utility workers, will continue to put their communities first and keep the nation’s lights on, we hope to see Congress act soon and provide federal support for those Americans struggling to pay their bills.

A 35-year veteran of the utility industry and the former general manager and CEO of Sacramento Municipal Utility District, John Di Stasio is the president of the Large Public Power Council, where he advocates for America’s largest public power systems in Washington, D.C.

Read the original article here.

Public Power Leaders Attend LPPC’s Inaugural Members Conference
Broad coalition floats cost containment proposal as FERC eyes final grid rule
Groups Urge Inclusion of Cost Containment in FERC Tx Planning Rule
Energy Groups Press Regulators to Scrutinize Power Grid Costs
LPPC and Advocacy Groups Advance Transmission Planning Cost Management Proposal at FERC
LPPC Discusses Electrification at USEA's 2024 State of the Energy Industry Forum
PUF Covers LPPC Grid Reliability Event with Sen. Kevin Cramer
LPPC Hosts a Discussion on Reliability with Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
Where Community Matters Most
LPPC Announces Tom Falcone, CEO of LIPA, and Jackie Flowers, Director of Utilities at Tacoma Public Utilities, as New Chair and Vice Chair
Commentary: Look no further than Long Island for a case for public power
Navigating the Path to a Sustainable and Reliable Power Supply
Clearing the Path for Permitting Reform
Leading on Clean Energy Expansion
Fitch Says Deleveraging Era Over For Public Power Utilities
LPPC Welcomes Nashville Electric Service as Newest Member
IRS guidance on renewable tax credit transferability, direct-pay provisions of IRA, garners mixed reviews
Treasury Proposes Rules on Monetizing Energy Tax Credits
Domestic Content Rules for Direct Pay Continue to Lack Clarity and Certainty
President’s Post: Permitting Reform & Protecting Direct Pay Priorities as LPPC CEOs Meet with Members of Congress
US Releases Made-in-America Rules for Clean Energy Credits
LPPC Calls for Certainty and Clarity on Domestic Content Requirements
Can Utilities Rise To The Challenges Presented By Decarbonization?
Panel Debates Impact of Renewables, Electrification on Reliability
To Electrify America, Advance Permitting Reform
LPPC Discusses Pathways to Decarbonization at USEA’s 2023 State of the Energy Industry Forum
LPPC Discusses Clean Energy Tax Credits and Decarbonization with Bloomberg Government
LPPC Provides Comments to Treasury on Clean Energy Tax Credits
President's Post: Public Power CEOs and Federal Policymakers Convene at LPPC's Post-Election Forum
LPPC CEOs Present at the Public Power Community Forum
LPPC at National Clean Energy Week
LPPC Chair and Austin Energy General Manager, Jackie Sargent, Discusses Carbon-Free Goals and More on Grid Talk
U.S. public power sector tackles emerging ESG challenges, inflation
Chair’s Post: Embracing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to Secure our Energy Future
LPPC Submits Comments to FERC on Transmission Planning
LPPC Leads Cross-Industry Push for E-Mobility
LPPC Members Fly In to Advocate for Public Power Communities
A Preview of Energy Transition Hopes and Hurdles for 2022
API Taps New Chief Lobbyist
LPPC Signs Joint Letter on Sequestration and Direct Subsidy Bonds
Joint Public Finance Network Letter to Congress In Support of Legislation In Response to COVID-19
Letter to Congress Regarding Near-Term for Customers and Communities in Response to COVID-19
LPPC Federal Reserve Municipal Liquidity Facility Letter
Joint Trades Community Owned Utility Direct Pay Letter
Letter to Treasury of Private Use
Letter to Treasury on Priority Guidance
GridWise Alliance and Grid Infrastructure Advisory Council Letter
Tulsa World: Utility Workers—A New, Unsung Hero Emerges During Times of Crisis
S&P Global: Municipal Utilities Call For Return Of Financial Tools To Get Through Pandemic
Morning Consult: Hidden Heroes Keeping The Lights On
Utility Dive: The (Energy) Efficient Road to Small Business Recovery
S&P Global: Public Power Utilities Say They Have 'Weathered' COVID-19 Storm; S&P Adds, 'So Far'
The Bond Buyer: Power Utilities Still Plan Capital Improvements
Morning Consult: Utilities Coalition Letter Rallies Congress to Include Support for Public Power in Coronavirus Stimulus
Morning Consult: Worldwide Denial-of-Service Cyberattacks on Utilities Up Five-Fold This Summer, Data Shows
Utility Dive: Public Power Leaders See Lasting Effects from 2020 Disruptions with New Approaches to Resilience, Equity
Public Utilities Fortnightly: Saluting the Workforce at Large Public Power Council; Conversation with LPPC president John Di Stasio
E&E News: Quest for 'Common Ground' Continues as Clock Ticks
POLITICO Morning Energy: Defending from Future Cyber Attacks
Agri-Pulse: Biden's Clean Power Target Poses Stiff Challenge for Some Rural Power Providers
PV Magazine: Sunrise Brief - Leaders Urge Support for Clean Energy Tax Breaks that Benefit Public Power
POLITICO: How Much Companies That Paid No Corporate Income Tax Spent on Lobbying
Utility Dive: Utilities to DOE - More Information, Not New Regulations, Needed to Secure the Grid
The Hill: Want a Clean Energy Future? Look to the Tax Code.
2022 Public Power Community Conference: Navigating an Industry in Transition
President’s Post: Fulfilling Our Mission to Benefit Public Power and America
Keeping America Powered: Meet Utility Workers Essential To Their Communities (Part 3)
Keeping America Powered: Meet Utility Workers Essential To Their Communities (Part 2)
Keeping America Powered: Meet Utility Workers Essential To Their Communities (Part 1)
Meet Our Essential Workers: Performing a Critical Role in Our Communities
E&E News: FERC unveils transmission plan seen as key for renewables
Canary Media: The US needs to build a bigger, stronger grid. FERC has a plan for that.
Austin Energy and LIPA Leaders Take the Reins at LPPC
LPPC Urges Congress to Consider Public Financing Tools in any COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Bill
LPPC Urges Congress to Support Public Power Communities
Large Public Power Council Chair and Vice-Chair Offer Insight on Response to the Coronavirus, Plans for Re-entry
LPPC Issues Statement on Clean Energy Innovation and Deployment Act of 2020
LPPC Calls on Congress to Prioritize Public Sector Infrastructure Investment
LPPC Issues Statement Regarding EPA’s Proposed Rulemaking on Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS)
Large Public Power Council Welcomes Austin Energy General Manager Jackie Sargent as New Chair, Long Island Power Authority CEO Tom Falcone Elected Vice Chair
LPPC Issues Joint Statement Regarding FERC’s Proposed Rule on Transmission Planning