Submitted by Orcas Power and Light Cooperative
Three OPALCO employees have tested positive for COVID-19 on Lopez and others are under quarantine, following the county protocol. At this time, the employees who tested positive appear to have mild to no symptoms and are resting at home. As their quarantine periods are up over the next week or so, we expect a full return to work.
OPALCO is operating under strict COVID-19 precautions with masks required whenever an employee is not at their distanced workstation or, in field conditions, whenever within ten feet of another person. OPALCO’s response to the positive cases includes continued daily contact tracking, increased internal communication and an interim staffing plan to cover outages and emergencies on Lopez.
OPALCO’s top priority is safety. The co-op has a pandemic plan in place to maintain reliable and safe electric service while protecting employees and members from exposure to illness. The source of the cases on Lopez is not clear, but the response is: all employees who may have been exposed are safely quarantining and all employees have been reminded to take every precaution against exposure. OPALCO is cooperating closely with the County Health Department to manage this outbreak and limit the spread.
While the pandemic plan provides direction for safety in fieldwork, there are unavoidable circumstances when employees must work in close proximity to each other. For example, masks cannot be worn during bucket-truck work per industry safety requirements and, in an emergency, more than one employee may have to travel in a truck or boat to restore power. OPALCO asks that all contractors working on co-op projects wear masks and follow COVID-19 safety precautions, as well.
Although OPALCO offices remain closed, all co-op services and response times are operating as normal. Once the Governor allows for all businesses to re-open with normal capacity and there have been no cases in the county for more than 60 days, OPALCO will re-evaluate when to open the offices to in-person traffic.
Residential and business members who are struggling to pay their power bills because of COVID-19 may qualify for OPALCO’s COVID-19 Relief Measures, https://www.opalco.com/covid-19-relief-measures/, and also Project PAL during the heating season. Many thanks to all of the members who are making donations to Project PAL this year to help meet the need. OPALCO encourages members who are falling behind on their bills to call 360-376-3500 to set up a payment plan. Once the Governor lifts the order against disconnection for non-payment, OPALCO will work with members who are in arrears and all balances must be paid. Get started today with a payment plan that works for you!