Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Like the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on AEP, our employees, customers and communities. We are taking proactive and necessary measures to address the pandemic, keeping health and safety as our top priorities. We activated our emergency oversight structure and incident management teams in accordance with AEP’s Infectious Disease Plan.
Due to the critical nature of the services we provide, AEP has business continuity and emergency preparedness plans in place to address all types of emergencies, including a pandemic. This allows our crisis response team to take immediate action when an emergency arises. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our teams are closely monitoring the situation to continuously educate and communicate with our employees, partners and customers about the impacts and threats of the virus. We are also collaborating with our peer companies, government experts and public health agencies to adjust our response, as the situation rapidly evolves.
We are taking significant steps to keep our employees healthy while ensuring our ability to serve our customers. This includes:
- Instructing all employees who were able to work from home to do so to help prevent the spread of the virus;
- requiring employees working within 6 feet of one another for prolonged periods to wear a face covering if social distancing cannot be maintained;
- self-monitoring for symptoms by employees and contractors who are critical to business operations;
- closing all AEP facilities to outside visitors; and
- curtailing all non-essential travel and participation in face-to-face meetings.
Our line workers and other employees critical to maintaining service and deemed Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have been directed to work in smaller teams, adjust work schedules, practice social distancing, monitor themselves for any symptoms and take other preventative measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition, as employees grappled with unprecedented challenges and personal demands arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, AEP worked to develop a comprehensive set of pay and leave programs to support employees across a wide range of situations. This was guided by a goal to protect and provide fair continuation of wages and benefits while limiting exposure risk to protect the health of employees and their families.
Being mindful of the financial hardships and concerns our customers may have been facing, we have temporarily suspended all service disconnections for non-payment. We urged customers to try to keep their accounts current, however, if a customer is having trouble paying their bill, they can contact us by phone or through one of our social media platforms to arrange payment options. We are also continually monitoring and working to heighten employee and customer awareness of scams and cyber security risks that are emerging during this pandemic.
During the pandemic, the American Electric Power Foundation committed to donating $3 million in emergency relief funds to support basic human needs and help address the hardships faced by customers and communities. Grants were made to nonprofit organizations across the AEP service area. In addition, we donated approximately 9,000 N95 masks, 110,000 nitrile gloves and 1,200 plastic face shields to health care facilities in the states we serve.
We have dedicated internal and external websites to provide updates to our stakeholders as the situation progresses. This includes recommendations on actions to prevent virus transmission, guidance for employees who may have contracted or come into contact with someone with COVID-19 and resources for our customers, communities and business partners. AEP’s Chairman, President and CEO, Nick Akins, communicated with employees through a series of video messages committing to ensuring employees have the proper support and resources needed during this unprecedented time.