AKRON, Ohio, March 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) remains focused on keeping the lights on for its customers as the nation addresses the coronavirus health emergency. As states issue stay-at-home orders and businesses shut down, FirstEnergy takes its responsibility to maintain and operate critical infrastructure seriously. The company is taking a well-informed and measured response that protects its employees and the public while delivering safe, reliable and cost-effective electricity.
Utility operations are considered an essential service in all six states where FirstEnergy operates and include routine maintenance, reliability enhancement projects, tree trimming work to help prevent tree-related outages, and meter reading. In states where FirstEnergy does not have smart meters, reading meters outside of homes and businesses helps ensure that monthly bills are accurate. This also prevents a prolonged period of estimated bills, as residential electric use is expected to spike for the foreseeable future as customers spend time in their homes around the clock.
To safeguard the health and safety of FirstEnergy employees, contractors and its six million customers, the company's Corporate Health and Safety group has implemented precautions aligned with the company's medical consultants, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Actions include:
Requiring employees and contractors to perform self-temperature checks when possible prior to reporting to work each day, and staying home if they have any signs of illness;
Performing enhanced environmental cleaning at company facilities, with extra focus on commonly touched surfaces;
Providing sanitizing products for equipment and vehicle cleaning;
Prohibiting visits to FirstEnergy locations by non-essential contractors and vendors;
Relocating job briefs and reporting locations to spaces conducive to social distancing;
Splitting into smaller work units to support distance between employees;
Offering medical personnel for employees who have questions or concerns about their health.
"Safety is a core value at FirstEnergy, and we care deeply about our employees who are working hard every day to ensure the safe and reliable operation of our electric system," said Charles E. Jones, president and CEO of FirstEnergy. "The coronavirus health emergency is likely to disrupt our daily lives for quite some time, and we are taking extensive steps to protect our employees and the public every step of the way. FirstEnergy is prepared to face this crisis and keep power flowing around the clock."
As of March 26, the company has not had a confirmed case of COVID-19 among its 12,000 employees. A process has been established to respond swiftly to any potential employee illness. Measures include providing expert evaluations, requiring 14-day quarantines for potentially infected employees and their immediate coworkers, cleaning and disinfecting any impacted areas using methods approved by the CDC, and enhanced cleaning of workplaces, including offices and shop locations.
FirstEnergy will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and take appropriate actions in accordance with CDC recommendations while also providing the energy customers need around the clock.
To protect customers from the challenges of living without electricity and to limit interactions between employees and the general public, effective March 13, FirstEnergy operating companies discontinued service shutoffs for past-due customers. Any customers who are or have been without power can contact their utility company. Customers whose service was disconnected for nonpayment prior to March 13 can be reconnected upon request. For more information and frequently asked questions about FirstEnergy's response to the coronavirus emergency, visit https://firstenergycorp.com/help/safety/coronavirus.html.