BPA's Transmission field crews have returned across its service territory to conduct maintenance, line patrols and compliance work. Since mid-March, these crews have been on call to respond only to emergency outages and other work necessary for life safety and grid reliability..
As states across the Northwest begin to relax some of the social distancing requirements put in effect to reduce the threat of COVID-19, the Bonneville Power Administration is beginning its own phased approach to return its workforce to facilities.
Transmission Field Districts across BPA’s service territory opened on June 1, meaning field crews are re-engaging in routine maintenance, line patrols and compliance work. The groups will also prepare for summer by working on wildfire mitigation projects. Since BPA closed its field offices in mid-March, these crews have been on call to respond only to emergency outages and other work necessary for life safety and grid reliability.
In direct support of the field work, portions of Aircraft Services and Transmission Technology groups have returned also.
On June 2, BPA allowed other members of its workforce who can’t perform their jobs remotely to return to facilities and re-engage in their onsite work. These jobs often require specialized equipment and software or access to data that cannot be obtained remotely.
Whether in the field or a facility, these members of our workforce continue to take appropriate social distancing measures into their work environment.
Personnel who are capable of teleworking continue to do so to maximize social distancing and minimize the risk of COVID-19. From mid-March to present day, more than 3,000 members of the BPA workforce have been connected daily and working remotely.
This continued emphasis on social distancing helps keep our workforce healthy and protects our mission to ensure the reliable delivery of power to load and the operation of the electrical grid.
BPA’s Incident Management Team continues to monitor local, regional and national conditions and is following guidance established by the U.S. Department of Energy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local and state authorities and health departments. BPA has the mechanisms and protocols in place to further ease social distancing restrictions or ramp up its response level if circumstances dictate.
Later this month, BPA will begin the process of restarting construction projects that had been put on pause as of March 19. While a few, select construction projects were allowed to proceed or start due to safety or system criticality concerns, most were suspended as a social distancing measure. The effort to restart these projects requires considerable coordination across multiple organizations internally and externally, as well as a logistical effort to return equipment, supplies and personnel to sites.
BPA will work with customers to develop new timelines, prioritizations and expectations for other construction projects that may be impacted by the pandemic.