Berkshire Gas Taking Steps To Ensure Uninterrupted Service During Coronavirus Pandemic
Actions taken to protect employees and ensure business and service continuity
Pittsfield, Mass – March 17, 2020 – Berkshire Gas today announced the steps it is taking across its operations to protect employees and customers and ensure continuity of essential electric and gas service during the coronavirus pandemic.
“During this pandemic, ensuring the health and safety of our employees is paramount to our ability to continue to safely deliver reliable electric and gas service to our customers across our operating companies,” said Berkshire Gas President Franklyn Reynolds. “We began communicating with our employees more than a month ago to reinforce preventative actions such as hand washing and ways to avoid spreading infection that are now part of everyday conversations worldwide.”
Reynolds continued, “Since then, we have taken a number of measures to limit exposure to our people and to protect our operations and the customers we serve. We have activated our emergency response and business continuity plans and are working with local, state and federal emergency response officials to make sure that we are providing whatever support is needed in this unprecedented and rapidly changing situation.”
Steps the company has taken include:
Preventing infection among employees and customers.
- Restricting non-employee visitors to all sites.
- Restricting all travel unless critical to maintaining operations.
- Instructing employees who are equipped to work from home, and whose role allows it, to do so until further notice.
- For those employees who cannot work from home, the company is taking measures to enable social distancing, which includes:
- Suspension of in home meter reading and shift to estimated usage or customer reported usage in those instances.
- Whenever possible, creating a work environment where employees can keep a safe distance from one another.
- Establishing staggered shifts and cross-training of employees to prevent staff shortages in critical areas, including customer service.
- Isolating energy control center and energy trading staff and limiting their contact with other employees in the workplace.
- Having field personnel assemble in small teams or as single workers to minimize physical interactions.
- Establishing a call screening process in customer service to defer nonessential work and limit potential exposure for our employees and customers.
- Providing guidelines for field personnel around how they can protect themselves and customers when they must enter a residence.
- Working with regulators as appropriate to limit noncritical work.
Addressing the potential financial impacts of an extended public health crisis on customers.
- All Avangrid Networks companies have announced suspension of service shut offs for nonpayment, and they have begun communicating with customers about programs and resources that can help customers manage bills and reduce energy usage.
Supporting emergency services and hospitals.
- Outreach and coordination with local, state and federal emergency response officials.
- Outreach to major hospitals to help ensure uninterrupted service.
- Inspection and conducting preventative maintenance on key circuits that serve emergency services and hospitals.
“We understand that this situation is going to get worse before it gets better and we want our customers to know we are taking the steps to ensure uninterrupted service,” said James Torgerson, CEO of Berkshire Gas parent Company AVANGRID. “Challenging emergency situations are not new to us and we have robust plans in place. We are ready and our people are ready to do their job to keep these essential services going. I am very proud of their dedication.”
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About Berkshire Gas: The Berkshire Gas Company is a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc. Established in 1853 and based in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Berkshire Gas operates 764 miles of natural gas distribution pipeline, serving approximately 40,000 customers across 20 Western Massachusetts communities. For more information, visit www.berkshiregas.com.
About AVANGRID: AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) is a leading, sustainable energy company with approximately $34 billion in assets and operations in 24 U.S. states. With headquarters in Orange, Connecticut, AVANGRID has two primary lines of business: Avangrid Networks and Avangrid Renewables. Avangrid Networks owns eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving more than 3.3 million customers in New York and New England. Avangrid Renewables owns and operates a portfolio of renewable energy generation facilities across the United States. AVANGRID employs approximately 6,600 people. AVANGRID supports the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and was named among the World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2019 and 2020 by the Ethisphere Institute. For more information, visit www.avangrid.com.
- Chris Farrell
413.445.0312 (business hours)