Effective as of 5 p.m. Friday, March 13 Sangre De Cristo Electric Association has closed public use of its community room and public lobby access at its headquarters located at 29780 U.S. Hwy 24 N in Buena Vista, until further notice. The decision of the closure to the public of the lobby and community room is being made to reduce exposure to and the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“I guess we’d call this a Tier I response, there are several steps in our business continuity plans,” said CEO Paul Erikson, speaking Saturday morning with Ark Valley Voice. “We’re only the second utility in the state to take this step, but our employees have to be mission-ready. We are business-critical and this is normally a month of storm outages.”
He went on to explain what is at stake. “We need a full complement of employees and right now we need to sequester them from the public. The month of March is a big weather month here. People without electricity can be in grave danger. If we have a bunch of sick linemen, they can’t respond to emergencies and if they’re sick, they’ll endanger themselves too.”
Erikson said that Sangre de Cristo will be evaluating the situation weekly, and that right now, some of its staff are set up to work at home too. “But our trajectory now might be through April. The curve of this virus is still on the incline – we won’t know when we’ve passed the apex until we do – and that could be weeks from now.”
Instead of coming in to the office, Sangre de Cristo Electric customers can call the normal company number 719-395-2412 for help and service. The company has also set up a toll-free service number with the same last seven digits; 844-395-2412. People can also email email@example.com or visit the SDCEA website, myelectric.coop.
Employees will continue to work at the electric cooperative’s business office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, to assist customers online and over the phone. Crews will be also in the field conducting business as usual.
“Because the health and safety of our community is paramount, we are taking these unprecedented steps to help slow the spread of the coronavirus,” said Erikson. “It is also critical for us to be able to stand up crews of healthy lineworkers when electricity is at its most urgent need – such as at this time, when the health of the general public is threatened.”