Industry Insights

Saluting Our Customers: How Utilities and Cities are Responding to COVID-19 – Part One

Responding to COVID-19
The world has found itself in an unprecedented time, navigating a global pandemic. The outbreak of COVID-19 is testing governments, companies and individuals in different ways. Yet, during this difficult time, individuals and organizations around the world are stepping up to help others – and our customers are no different.

Not only are utilities and cities keeping the lights on, the water running and gas services safely connected in a time of crisis, they are giving back. In this blog series, we recognize the honorable actions utilities are taking to support their communities during this exceptional time.

Based in Spokane County in Washington state, where Itron is also headquartered, Avista Utilities provides electricity to nearly 340,000 customers and natural gas to about 300,000 customers across 30,000 square miles and four northwestern states. In addition to suspending all collection activity and disconnects for customers, Avista will provide more than $560,000 to help those in need. The funds are being distributed to COVID-19 relief funds across the region, non-profit organizations focused on serving members of the restaurant and hospitality industry, and various organizations that provide food for seniors, children and families while schools and meal sites are temporarily closed. To brighten spirits in Spokane, Avista repurposed holiday lights near hospitals to show appreciation for medical professionals.

CenterPoint Energy
CenterPoint Energy, headquartered in Houston, Texas, serves more than 7 million natural gas and electric customers in eight states. The utility recently announced that through its foundation, the company will contribute $1.5 million to nonprofit organizations, agencies and causes that are committed to supporting those who have been impacted by COVID-19. CenterPoint Energy's COVID-19 Relief Fund will include $1 million in direct contributions, as well as up to $500,000 in matching gifts for employees' contributions to qualifying organizations. CenterPoint Energy will also support customers who need payment assistance and has temporarily suspended natural gas service disconnections.

Con Edison
Con Edison’s electric, gas, and steam service provides energy for the 10 million people who live in New York City and Westchester County, which have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. To help set up a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility, Con Edison added more power to a Coney Island parking lot. As an additional step to help customers through this difficult time, Con Edison will not shut off services for non-payment and is waiving fees for late payments. Last week, the utility lit its iconic Irving Place headquarters clock tower blue in honor of health care professionals, first responders and essential workers.

As part of this blog series, I – along with other Itron leaders – will be sharing additional inspiring stories of how our utility customers are promoting health, safety and hope during this challenging time. Read part two and part three.