Co-ops Optimistically Working Toward Return to Normal

Colorado’s electric cooperatives are adjusting work practices to make sure that co-op personnel remain safe and healthy.

By Kent Singer, CREA Executive Director

As I write this column on a beautiful Colorado spring day, it’s difficult to reconcile the hope of the season with the challenges facing so many Coloradans. The spread of the novel coronavirus has certainly changed our perspective on the world and dramatically impacted how we interact with each other.

One thing that will remain constant in these turbulent times is the commitment of your electric co-op to provide reliable electric service. We know that your access to electricity is the one lifeline to your health and safety that cannot be compromised. With so many Coloradans working from home and taking care of kids who are now being homeschooled, there is absolutely a premium on reliable electric service. If there is one thing you can rely on, it’s that Colorado’s electric co-ops will do everything humanly possible to keep the electricity flowing to your home and business.

To accomplish this task, Colorado’s electric co-ops are adjusting work practices to make sure that co-op personnel remain safe and healthy. We know how difficult it would be to maintain our facilities if a large number of co-op lineworkers became ill or needed to care for sick family members. So, co-ops across the state are implementing social distancing measures for their staff and carefully evaluating which projects are absolutely necessary to provide reliable service.

This “new normal” creates particular challenges for the co-op lineworkers who literally keep the lights on in your community. Co-op line crews in Colorado have always faced a variety of obstacles to do their work: difficult weather, extreme terrain and, of course, the always-present dangers of working near energized power lines. Now, however, line crews not only have to be mindful of the usual challenges but they also have to adapt their practices to protect their health.

My favorite historical figure is Winston Churchill, arguably the most important figure of the 20th century. Churchill suffered many setbacks in his life, but he did what all great leaders do: He refused to stay down for long. He was also guided by great moral clarity and he understood the consequences of inaction. By sheer force of will and refusal to succumb to Nazi Germany, he led Great Britain and the world to victory in a truly existential battle.

While the challenges we face today are not nearly as difficult as those the country faced in the early 1940s, these are still uncertain and challenging times. But as Churchill once said: “A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”

Colorado’s electric co-ops are busy finding opportunities to serve our consumer-members in new ways during these difficult times. We’ll do everything possible to support the resilience of your communities and your ability to bounce back from great hardship. In the face of this reality, Colorado’s electric co-ops choose to be optimists and look forward to a brighter future in Colorado and across the country.

Kent Singer is the executive director of the Colorado Rural Electric Association and offers a statewide perspective on issues affecting electric cooperatives. CREA is the trade association for your electric co-op, the 21 other electric co-ops in Colorado and its power supply co-op.