State legislators to consider coronavirus relief package: The Wisconsin state Senate and Assembly are meeting in Extraordinary Session this week to debate legislation in response to the public health emergency. Governor Tony Evers and Republican lawmakers have released different proposals to provide relief for those affected by COVID-19 and how to spend more than $2 billion in federal stimulus funding coming to the state.
One of the provisions being considered will authorize the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) to extend loans to municipal utilities so that they may continue to maintain liquidity in the event of a temporary loss of revenues. This is an important change that provides a much-needed option for all municipal electric utilities. The municipal utilities proactively lobbied for this BCPL provision on behalf of all MEUW members; MEUW will provide additional updates as warranted.
Online safety worksheets enable workers to keep up with training while social distancing: In an effort to adapt to ongoing social-distancing measures, MEUW has developed a series of safety-related training worksheets designed to help lineworkers review critical concepts. The optional worksheets — on topics ranging from hold-carding to work zone safety — are available for download from MEUW’s Website. Upon completion, workers are asked to turn in the worksheet by email to receive feedback and credit (instructions are provided on each of the worksheets).
Whenever possible, MEUW’s trainers are offering training via videoconference or in small groups. The online worksheets are intended for self-study and to supplement on-the-job training until regular in-person, onsite sessions can be reinstated. Additional worksheets are currently being developed and will be added in the near future. Workers are encouraged to limit themselves to completing only one worksheet per sitting to support more focused learning.
Nominations for MEUW Board of Directors due by end of this week: MEUW is currently accepting nominations for interested individuals to serve on the association’s Board of Directors for a two-year term beginning May 15, 2020. This year’s election will be for Directors and Alternate Directors in even-numbered districts. The Nomination Form and additional information is available here. The deadline to nominate someone is Friday, April 17.
The April edition of Live Lines was distributed last week. In case you missed it, you can find it online here.
Additional Flaggers Training webinar added to schedule: MEUW is now offering a three-hour webinar session to satisfy the new training requirement for flaggers. Each session is capped at 40 participants and a number have already filled up, so we’ve added an additional session.
The webinar is offered on Tuesday, April 21, Wednesday, April 29, Tuesday, May 5, Thursday, May 14, and Tuesday, May 19. Each session begins at 9 a.m. and concludes by 12 noon. Participants can join the webinar from any internet-connected computer, tablet or smartphone from anywhere. Information to register is available here.
Utility workers eligible for COVID-19 testing, if needed: Critical infrastructure employees, including utility workers, are now among those workers who may receive priority COVID-19 testing from a health care provider, if that employee is demonstrating symptoms of COVID-19. Common symptoms include: fever (over 100.5°), coughing, shortness of breath, headache, and body aches/tiredness.
Health care providers utilize a form that defines who is eligible to be tested, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has now added a check box for critical infrastructure employees under “Tier 1/Category A.” Any utility employee experiencing symptoms should mention the updated form to his/her health care providers. Testing people without symptoms does not provide assurance that those individuals will remain symptom/disease-free, so administering COVID-19 tests to workers who are asymptomatic is currently not recommended.
Saturday is day to show appreciation for lineworkers: This year’s commemoration of National Lineman Appreciation Day takes on special meaning as the nation copes with the coronavirus pandemic and an increased reliance on essential workers to help citizens stay safe at home. Celebrated officially since 2013 and commemorated by a Resolution in the United States Senate, April 18th is set aside each year as the Day to express appreciation for all the men and women who put their talents to work as electrical line workers.
Together, MEUW member utilities employ more than 300 lineworkers across Wisconsin, and the association plans to use social media to recognize these hard-working individuals who commit themselves to their customers and communities. Utilities are encouraged to share photos of their line crews that we can post and share on MEUW’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Send the pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org and help us recognize Wisconsin’s public power lineworkers.
MEUW is also providing an online graphic (shown below) that all members can share on their own social media pages to highlight the Day with their customers, family and friends. Take time to #thankalineman.
New dates selected for workshops: MEUW has now rescheduled three workshops that were postponed because of the COVID-19 public health emergency. In selecting new dates, we attempted to balance the need for training and the fluid nature of the “stay at home” orders with the advance planning necessary to secure facilities and presenters and to attract prospective attendees. Please make note of the new dates and watch for updated registration information and revised agendas to be provided soon.
- 2020 Watt Hour Metering Workshop rescheduled to Aug. 3-6 at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) in Green Bay. Schedule includes an optional pre-workshop refresher session on Monday, Aug. 3, and the three-day workshop on Aug. 4, 5 and 6.
- Facility Locating Workshop rescheduled to Aug. 11 in Eau Claire.
- Underground Distribution School rescheduled to Aug. 18-19 at NWTC in Green Bay.
Within the next few weeks, those who had registered for the original sessions can expect to be contacted directly with details to rollover their registration, substitute an attendee, apply credit to future MEUW training, or receive a refund.
MEUW Annual Conference moved to August: The public health emergency has prompted the rescheduling of the 2020 MEUW Annual Conference, which will now take place Aug. 19-21. The 91st gathering of public power leaders will take place in Manitowoc as originally planned. Those who had previously registered will automatically be rolled over to the new date. A golf outing is planned for Wednesday, Aug. 19, at the Autumn Ridge Golf Club.
While the rescheduling may prompt some minor adjustments to the program, the majority of featured speakers and breakout session leaders have indicated they’re available for the new date. Full details about the conference are available on MEUW’s Website.
Member News: Waupun Utilities Commissioners have named Steve Brooks as the utility’s General Manager. Steve was previously Electric Operations Supervisor and now adds the GM duties to his role. He succeeds Jared Oosterhouse, who has left the utility.