American Electric Power/Southwestern Electric Power Company (AEP/SWEPCO) officials have made the decision to suspend all disconnections for non-payment during the COVID-19 crisis sweeping the nation, and the world.
In a press release issued March 13, AEP/SWEPCO representatives stated, “We know our customers are concerned about their families and ensuring they have reliable electric service allows them to focus on staying healthy and well. We are committed to doing what we can to help our customers, our employees, and the communities we serve navigate this uncertain time.”
According to SWEPCO’s Vice President of External Affairs, T. Brian Bond, the company decided to suspend disconnection for customers in all three states within their territory. Louisiana government officials did later issue an order mandating that area power companies cease disconnections for non-payment until the Coronavirus crisis clears but SWEPCO’s quick action and civic awareness did preempt the state’s mandate.
The company’s decision-makers recognized the uniqueness of this global crisis and endeavored to assist the areas they serve to manage this pandemic.
For families impacted by the illness itself, or collateral shut-downs enacted to protect the public, the inability to pay a utility bill will be one less worry in the ever-expanding list of concerns.
Critical generation, transmission, distribution, and business personnel, including lineworkers, have been instructed to practice social distancing, regular handwashing and follow other suggestions made by the CDC, in order to impede the spread of the virus. SWEPCO recommends employees work from home as responsibilities allow and are restricting business travel and meetings while limiting visitor access to SWEPCO facilities.
According to an update posted on the company’s website a Shreveport General Office employee diagnosed with COVID-19 remains quarantined at home and is recovering.
Louisiana Department of Health officials said SWEPCO employees who did not have close contact with the employee with COVID-19 may return to work. SWEPCO employees who had close contact with the affected employee have been instructed by the state health departments to self-quarantine for 14 days since their last contact.
“AEP/SWEPCO is being proactive about this entire situation,” said Bond, “We will weather this storm as a community.”