Maintaining critical services and protecting public health during Covid-19

We have all seen what COVID-19 is doing to our society, our economy, our workplaces and our healthcare system. First-hand experience and stories in the media remind us of the scale of the challenge. We are all concerned for our loved ones, especially those most vulnerable, and each of us is stepping up to play our part in containing the virus. 

Together, we’re doing everything we can to stay safe and keep the people around us safe. We have accepted changes in our lives we couldn’t have imagined a few weeks ago. Home is the place we feel safe now, and many of us are spending all our days there, trying to stay connected with our work, looking after our children, caring for the most vulnerable. Others are at the front-line – in hospitals, food production and retail, policing, public transport and in critical services like electricity. 

In ESB we know that electricity is providing vital support for everyone right now. It underpins many critical front-line services, and sustains our ability to live, work and stay connected from home. That’s why we are taking steps in line with Government measures to balance the provision of essential energy supplies with our need to keep our employees and the communities we serve, safe and healthy. We are doing this knowing that many of our customers are in their homes, working remotely, dealing with illness or self-isolating to flatten the curve. 

 

  • We are committed to maintaining excellent customer service throughout this crisis. To help us, we are asking customers, where possible, to use digital platforms as the first point of contact for routine services and general enquiries.
  • Contact details for ESB Networks, who serve all electricity customers regardless of who your Supplier is, can be found at www.esbnetworks.ie.
  • Contact details for ESB’s supply company, Electric Ireland, can be found at www.electricireland.ie , while contact details for other supply companies can be found at their own websites.
  • At ESB, we have put in place measures to enable most of our employees to work from home so that we can keep them safe and avoid the spread of the virus while continuing to serve electricity customers.
  • ESB is committed to keeping our power stations and wind farms operating during this crisis. Our networks company, ESB Networks, is committed to carrying out all essential work to maintain the flow of electricity from power stations and wind farms right through to electricity customers. Only those people involved in essential activities to maintain electricity supply, protect public safety, and keep critical systems going will attend work outside their homes. This includes people who are working in power stations, the networks control centers, our customer contact centers and employees in essential support roles. ESB Networks will continue to provide essential maintenance services and respond to all network faults and public safety concerns. ESB and ESB Networks have suspended all non-essential activities that require employees and contractors to leave their homes, including metering installation, on-site meter readings, routine maintenance and field sales. 
  • Where employees need to be on site to carry out essential work, appropriate steps are being taken to keep them safe and protect the people around them, including maintaining social distancing in line with HSE guidelines, implementing regular deep cleaning of buildings and providing appropriate personal protective equipment.
  • Occasionally it will be necessary for employees to enter homes for safety reasons or to restore supply. This will only be done if it is absolutely necessary and with permission of householders. To keep electricity customers and our employees safe ESB staff, on entering homes, will wear personal protective equipment and use sanitising wipes to clean any surface that they work on before and after carrying out their work. 
  • All ESB employees involved in essential activities that require travel outside the home will carry identification in line with Government guidelines

  • None of us is immune to COVID-19, and despite our best efforts, we are conscious that some of our colleagues in ESB may become ill over the coming weeks. We have therefore activated detailed business continuity plans to ensure that our generating stations, wind farms, electricity networks operations, customer service and support functions continue to operate as normally as possible throughout this crisis, even in the event that some of our colleagues are unwell or have to self-isolate.  
  • ESB Networks occasionally needs to switch off power supplies to customers to repair faults and address safety hazards. We know that this can be disruptive to people so in scheduling and carrying out this work, ESB Networks will seek to limit the number of customers impacted and the duration of outages.  This work will also be planned in a way that prioritizes the needs of essential service providers, including those in the healthcare, water, gas, telecommunications and food sectors.   

  • We are acutely aware that many customers are facing new financial challenges as a result of COVID-19 and may need additional support. Our supply business, Electric Ireland, is doing its best to help people at this time, and is asking residential or business customers who are concerned about their ability to pay their bills on time to engage with them at an early stage so that workable and affordable payment solutions can be developed specific to individual circumstances. 
  • To give customers peace of mind at this worrying time, Electric Ireland has also suspended disconnections for now and will continue to monitor the situation as the crisis unfolds. 
  • Before the crisis started, Electric Ireland announced a price reduction of 2.5% on electricity and 11.5% on gas which will come into effect on 1 April 2020. This will mean that people spending more time at home will be less impacted by increased energy usage.
  • In line with Commission for Regulation of Utilities guidance, Electric Ireland has written to its Gas Pay as You Go (PAYG) Customers to let them know that emergency credit on PAYG meters has been increased from €10 to €100. This will allow customers to maintain gas supply for a longer period of time if they cannot continue to purchase credit as regularly as usual. All medically vulnerable customers with PAYG meters have been offered the option to change their meters to standard bill pay to ensure security of supply. 

While we do not know what the coming months will bring, our continued objective is to look after customers and employees, providing secure and safe electricity to the people of Ireland no matter what happens. We will stay connected to families, communities and businesses all over the country and will support the fight against Covid-19. 

Right now, we are working hard to support the ongoing provision of safe and reliable electricity and many of our employees are adjusting to a new way of working. We thank you for your co-operation and patience as we adapt, and we wish you and your family continued safety during this very challenging period.

Pat O’Doherty

Chief Executive ESB

Friday 3rd April 2020