BLOG: Update on COVID-19 Impacts to Energy Consumers and Utilities

Essential staff at the nation’s power plants may find themselves living on site as the COVID-19 crisis worsens, and some plants already have begun stockpiling beds, blankets and food.

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No utility shut-offs during the COVID-19 crisis — that’s the request a number of community activist groups have filed this week with the Texas Public Utility Commission.

“Shutting off utilities is a public health concern,” says Karen Miller, Executive Director at Texas Legal Services Center, one of the groups behind the joint petition filed March 20. “It would mean that people can’t wash their hands, bathe, or cook with clean water.” Additionally, not having utilities would deter people from staying home —particularly endangering vulnerable populations like the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, according to the community aide organizations.

Other petitioners included  Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, Lone Star Legal Aid, People’s Community Clinic, Texas Health Action, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and Disability Rights Texas. You can download the petition here.

You can download the petition here.

In other COVID-19 Energy News:

 

  • Essential staff at the nation’s power plants may find themselves living on site as the COVID-19 crisis worsens, and some plants already have begun stockpiling beds, blankets and food, according to the Reuters news service. Journalists at the news organization surveyed more than a dozen power providers about their continuity-of-service plans and reported that if enacted, the plans would mark an unprecedented step by power providers to protect highly-skilled workers during a national crisis. The federal government considers electric power plants, oil and gas infrastructure and nuclear plants as “critical” infrastructure, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has responsibility for keeping these facilities operational during national emergencies.

 

  • Energy analysts have begun warning that COVID-19 economic damage to the industry is all but inevitable and have said that damage will fall particularly hard on the budding solar, energy storage and electric vehicle sectors. On Thursday a coalition of clean-energy industry groups summed up some of those concerns in an open letter to the U.S. Congress and called upon lawmakers to extend construction deadlines. A nuclear industry group this week similarly called upon Congress for regulatory relief.

 

  • Oil prices have continued their fall as the coronavirus spreads — from over $60 a barrel at the beginning of 2020 to about $25 a barrel this week. This may cause further harm to the Texas economy and may undermine the state budget, according to reports. The state Comptroller’s office has reported that more than 6 percent of its tax receipts during 2018 came from the oil and gas industry.
— R.A. Dyer