September 29, 2020
April Safety Training Esource Newlsetter

Overview of the Federal Legislative Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

American Public Power Association

Summary

Congress has passed and the President has signed into law three legislative responses to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Some aspects of these bills have been helpful to public power, including provisions intended to help utility customers pay their bills, steps to ensure liquidity in municipal credit markets, and direct aid to states and local governments responding to the pandemic. Work on a fourth bill to shore up funding for a small business grant program is already underway, and subsequent legislation focused less on emergency response and disaster mitigation - and more on economic recovery - is expected. 

APPA's top priorities in the ongoing pandemic are that public power utilities have the physical, logistical, and financial resources to continue to operate while keeping their workers safe. Logistical and operational concerns are largely being addressed through our interaction with various stakeholder groups and federal departments and agencies. Financial concerns are largely being address through legislation. In this arena APPA is working with congressional committee and member staff on:

  • Suspension of power shutoffs and the implications for public power;
  • Direct financial assistance to public power utilities;
  • Increased funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP);
  • Access to payroll tax credits for emergency paid sick leave and paid family leave;
  • Enhancements to tax-exempt financing; and 
  • Ensuring emergency appropriations for the Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs), Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) are non-reimbursable from preference customers

 (Please click on link for additional information)

APPA COVID-19 Legislative Responsive Overview 4_ 24_ 20


Cost Recovery for COVID-19 related costs for 
Public Utilities 

There may be multiple avenues of potential financial recovery
through FEMA, HUD, and other granting agencies.
It is crucial to start tracking costs NOW at a level of detail
that can be analyzed for recovery later—costs may be eligible
starting January 20, 2020.
Impacted organizations should consider the following steps:

  • Establish clear roles, responsibilities and procedures for document organization, collection and review
  • Assist the plan for coordination among virtual teams and maintaining electronic documentation
  • Understand the scope of activities being performed across your organization
  • Establish unique project numbers & activity codes and descriptions for tracking costs based on what makes sense for your organization
  • Create activity logs that can be used to trach qualitative information needed to support costs incurred
  • Communicate, implement and train employees on the process 
  • Establish reporting dashboards and summaries to understand the financial impact and costs
  • Encourage leadership to set the tone that costs are to be tracked
Key Risk:
  • Not applying for available funding 
  • Failing to identify and track costs that may be eligible 
  • Failing to receive reimbursements as a result of a lack of documentation
  • Potential clawbacks for failure to comply with funding requirements
  • Fraud, waste and abuse
Examples of potential costs to track:

Labor

  • Emergency operations center activities
  • Call center activities
  • Health and safety training
  • Communications
  • Sanitizing and disinfection of facilities
  • Supply chain acitivies:logistics, procurement, storage, donated resources, temporary and / or enhanced facilities coordination
  • Distribution of consumable supplies
  • medical disposal 
  • Childcare for critical staff 
  • Security 
  • Stand by/sleep time/ meal time per labor agreements
  • Time associated with grant management acitivities
  • Procured services (i.e.contracted labor)
  • Donated labor

Equipment

  • Temporary facilities and associated furniture
  • Official vehicle usage
  • Generators, light towers, tents for essential services
  • Use of mobile command center 
  • Purchased equipment & technology
  • Leased equipment
  • Donated equipment

Supplies and other

  • Personal protective equipment 
  • Disinfectant and cleaning supplies
  • Emergency operations center supplies
  • Medical and testing supplies
  • Signage and checkpoint supplies
  • Training supplies
  • Food and meals 
  • Water and ice
  • Lodging
  • Other consumable supplies
  • Donated materials, goods, and supplies
  • Remote work facilitation and disruption to workplace costs

 

 

 

 

 

From the Desk of Duane Richardson

Planning for a health emergency, such as the novel coronavirus (or COVID-19), is unique for the utility industry. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has identified Utility workers (Electric / Gas / Water & Wastewater) as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During Covid -19 Response”.

The objective of identifying those critical infrastructure employees working in entities, like electric, gas, water & wastewater utilities, is to ensure essential services are maintained and front-line workers are protected.

Many of the IMEA Members have already adopted and implemented work policies in efforts to comply with the CDC Guidelines on social gatherings and social distancing and cleaning and disinfecting in an attempt to stop the spread of the COVID-19 Virus.

If your organization hasn’t implemented any policies, I implore you to do so immediately. One exposure at your organization could potentially expose the entire utility and the resulting consequences could be devastating to the organization.

Health and staying healthy is always important; however, considering our current situation, healthy lifestyles are even more important. The older we are the more susceptible we are to the COVID-19 Virus, there’s absolutely nothing we can do about our age but can reduce the odds by adopting some healthier lifestyles.

Stay Safe and More Importantly Stay Healthy


IMEA remains committed to serving its membership during the COVID-19 emergency. 

IMEA staff are happy to respond to requests for information and assistance in dealing with this unprecedented situation. (Click on the link below for information on COVID-19).

IMEA Services and Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Links to IMEA COVID-19 Information Packet


IMEA WOULD LIKE TO THANK OUR FEATURED ASSOCIATE MEMBER FOR THE MONTH OF APRIL! 

Ice Miller LLP

Ice Miller

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