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2020 Year End Report: Power and Water Utilities

Utilities must focus on maintaining continuity of operations, enhancing safety protocols for employees, and preparing for a “new normal” ready workplace


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Since the start of the quarantine season, working from home has become the new norm and economic activities became steady and uncomprehending by the month.

The utilities sector, as a result, experienced a disruption in the demand, especially in the first six months of the year.

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Demands in power in the commercial and industrial sector significantly declined, while those in residential spaces increased dramatically.

During this time, the utilities industry must start to focus on maintaining the continuity of their operations, enhancing safety protocols for their employees, and preparing for a “new normal”-ready workplace.

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While the concerns of water utility operators changed in the first few months of the crisis, three major concerns stood out in a survey conducted by American Water Works Association (AWWA): revenue, personnel, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

It came as no surprise that the financial situation of utility companies are negatively impacted by the pandemic with 45% of the respondents reporting adjustments in their spending as early as mid-June.

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Thankfully, the majority of the companies are still resilient and dedicated to providing customer assistance by suspending shutoffs and eliminating fees for late payment.

Issues in personnel management have also arose as 16% of the respondent companies cut back on pays and froze wages and 8% reported laying off employees.

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Acquiring PPEs was also a major concern, especially in the first couple of months when supplies are limited and always out of stock.

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To top it off, water operators also faced challenges in securing certifications because of the discontinued in-person trainings needed for certificate renewals.

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Several states handled this situation differently with multiple states allowed the replacement of in-person training with an online one.

Others accepted individuals with incomplete requirements under the condition that they will finish the required hours upon resumption of in-person training.

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Keeping these challenges in mind, it is clear that the water utility companies need to be more resilient in the face of the pandemic.

 

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Robert Bagatsing
Managing Editor and Founder of GineersNow based in Dubai and Manila. Survived marketing at Harvard, Management at AIM and proud Bedan.

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