By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ
The COVID-19 outbreak presented multiple challenges for North Texas as several million residents self-quarantined at home amid school closings, restaurant shutdowns and sporting, festival and music event postponements and cancellations.
Despite the massive disruption of our normal lives – and the hoarding, by some, of toilet paper and hand sanitizer – there were plenty of examples of neighbors helping neighbors.
At CoServ, we helped the way we always do: By keeping our Employees safe so they could continue serving Members and Customers with the uninterrupted energy they need to power their lives.
“We provide critical infrastructure services, so we cannot close for business,” said CoServ President/CEO Donnie Clary. “If our Employees aren’t healthy, they can’t do their jobs. Early on, we took every precaution we could to ensure that Employees were not exposed to—or exposed others to—COVID-19."
As an electric cooperative and natural gas utility, CoServ provides a “national critical function” as defined by the federal government – the disruption of which could have a debilitating effect on national security, the economy, public health and safety.
Initial precautions included closing CoServ’s headquarters in Corinth to visitors, cancelling all business travel and in-person meetings of 10 or more people, and postponing all on-site energy assessments.
Donnie said that before area counties issued “shelter in place” orders, CoServ’s Information Technology Team was working to set up Employees to work from home.
“In mid-March, about 50 percent of CoServ Employees had the ability to work from home,” he said. “By the end of the month, this number was above 90 percent.”
To help Members and Customers deal with the economic impact of COVID-19, CoServ temporarily suspended disconnections for nonpayment and waived late fees and penalties to ensure that people still had electricity and natural gas while they were self-quarantined.
“We did this to give our Members and Customers one less thing to worry about during this stressful time,” said Denise Smithers, CoServ’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations. “We also provided links to financial assistance and paymen textension requests on our website because we don’t want people to get too far behind on their bills.”
Using technology, Denise said, is key to contacting CoServ during our collective “COVID Captivity.”
"Whether it’s sending an email, logging on to your SmartHub account on CoServ.com or using the CoServ app, we have a variety of ways you can reach us," Denise said.