BPU sees some changes from COVID-19 pandemic

At the Board of Public Utilities’ 6 p.m. telephone and Zoom internet meeting April 1, General Manager Bill Johnson said in answer to a question that the BPU had no employees who tested positive for COVID-19.

However, there were six to eight BPU employees in self-quarantine, he said, due to people having possible risk with travel.

Currently, about 24 percent of the work force is on administrative leave during the “stay-home” order, he said. Some are working at home. Water and electric services are considered to be essential operations.

Board member Jeff Bryant said BPU front-line workers working with the public are “unsung heroes.”

“My heart goes out to all the hard-working staff,” board member Bob Milan Sr. said.

According to BPU officials, it was too early to tell the effects of COVID-19 on the BPU. The February financial report included figures from before March.

Lori Austin, BPU chief financial officer, said they are starting to see a little bit in reduction in cash since the COVID-19 crisis started. They have noticed some change in the past three to four days, she said.

The BPU’s customer service lobby has been closed since March 23 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, utility cutoffs for nonpayment were discontinued temporarily on March 16 as a result of the pandemic.

The BPU staff will know more later, and they will be looking at the figures more often, according to Austin.

Operating revenues in February were down about 7 percent, according to the report. February electric revenues were down about 5.3 percent, and February water revenues were down about 1.1 percent.

Milder winter weather may have been the cause of the slight decline in February, according to Austin.

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