The Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives recently sent the following letter to The Honorable John Bel Edwards requesting consideration to include essential utility workers in Phase 1b for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Dear Governor Edwards:
I am writing on behalf of the member-owned electric cooperatives of the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives (ALEC), our electric utility workers and the communities that we serve, to ask you to designate and include our essential electric utility workers in Phase 1b to receive the COVID-19 vaccine immediately. Our seven electric cooperatives serve over 1.2 million household members.
With additional supplies of the COVID-19 vaccines now becoming available, we ask that you designate our essential electric utility workers as a stated group for access to initial inoculation. Prioritizing vaccination access for mission-essential workers is consistent with guidance contained in the October 2, 2020, “Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine” by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The final report recommends that critical infrastructure workers be considered for prioritization based upon their job function and exposure to risks. Additionally, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to urge the CDC to consider that a subset of the energy workforce be included in Phase 1b — specifically, highly trained electrical field workers, power plant operators, transmission and distribution grid operators, and personnel who procure the energy needed to balance the grid on a moment-to-moment basis.
Our essential electric utility workers support and preserve the infrastructure and operations that are the backbone of our energy delivery systems. These electric utility workers have been putting their personal health at risk every day for the past eleven months of the COVID-19 pandemic not to mention during an unprecedented hurricane season with reconstruction efforts still ongoing in southwest Louisiana. Providing them with access to the COVID-19 vaccine will help ensure that they can remain on the job to perform their critical functions while protecting the health and safety of themselves and those around them.
This work has become more challenging and critical during the COVID-19 pandemic while many families are working and being educated from home. Our essential electric utility workers ensure that reliable power is delivered to our members so they can stay warm, keep the lights on and carry on with their lives regardless of the weather outside.
In light of these challenges, and while we recognize the seriousness of the decisions related to prioritizing a safe and efficacious vaccination for COVID-19, we urge you to designate and include our essential electric utility workers in Phase 1b to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Jeffery J. Arnold, CEO
Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives (ALEC)
Beauregard Electric Co-op – Serves 7 parishes; approx. 174,876 Louisiana citizens.
Kevin Turner, Executive Vice President and General Manager
Claiborne Electric Co-op – Serves 6 parishes; approx. 95,912 Louisiana citizens.
Mark Brown, CEO and General Manager
DEMCO Co-op – Serves 7 parishes; approx. 506,484 Louisiana citizens.
Randy Pierce, CEO and General Manager
Jeff Davis Electric Co-op – Serves 5 parishes; approx. 43,382 Louisiana citizens.
Michael J. Heinen, General Manager
Panola Harrison Electric Co-op – Serves 2 parishes; approx. 79,832 Louisiana citizens.
Kathy Wood, Manager
Southeast Louisiana Electric Co-op – Serves 5 parishes; approx. 86,056 Louisiana citizens.
Joseph A. Ticheli, General Manager
Washington St. Tammany Electric Co-op – Serves 3 parishes; approx. 232,816 Louisiana citizens.
Charles Hill, General Manager/CEO