Responding to our current public health crisis is a huge task that requires all aspects of the New Jersey community to pull together. We at PSEG feel that responsibility strongly. Public Service has been our name for 100-plus years, ever since our founder, Thomas McCarter, declared the company’s mission was to make New Jersey a better place to live and to work.
Usually, that means providing homes and businesses with safe, reliable and affordable energy. The essential nature of our business has required that we continue most operations during the past months, while so many others scaled back, or closed entirely, in the name of public health. So I welcomed Governor Murphy’s gracious invitation to join his Restart and Recovery Commission as another opportunity to help make New Jersey a better place to live and work.
The governor created the group to get the state’s economy rolling again in a way that instills confidence that safety will not be compromised. PSEG’s COVID-19 experience can help other businesses and organizations as they resume or expand their operations. I am proud that PSEG has been able to maintain near-normal operations through this pandemic, and that our health and safety protocols helped us to limit our workforce to a COVID-19 infection rate that was less than half that of the broader New Jersey population.
When federal and state health authorities alerted us of the potentially serious nature of the developing COVID-19 pandemic, PSEG began working on contingency plans that would allow us to continue to deliver safe, reliable gas and electric energy to our customers. This included ensuring that all essential services could be delivered safely, even under the most dire of circumstances. Over the weeks that followed, we developed detailed operational plans for every organization in the company, with particular emphasis on safeguarding the health and safety of our employees and customers, while also ensuring the continuity of our operations.
The approaches we developed included creating dozens of remote reporting locations so our employees worked in smaller groups, implementing rigorous, new work practices – restricting tool sharing, enforcing physical distancing policies and outfitting personnel with the personal protective equipment they needed to work safely and to keep our customers safe should an emergency require access to a customer’s home or business. We also adjusted our operations to allow a substantial part of our workforce to work remotely without harming our ability to deliver the reliable service our customers expect from us.
Thanks to our advance planning, only minor adjustments were required for PSEG to fully comply with Governor Murphy’s executive orders.
I had the good fortune to lead the PSEG team’s preparation efforts and I’m proud of the many innovative solutions we developed. Many of our approaches have been adopted by our industry peers as best practices. I view the governor’s invitation as a testament to my PSEG colleagues, whose careful planning and hard work allowed us to meet the needs of our customers during this challenging period.
The suffering that COVID-19 has inflicted on New Jersey runs deep and wide. It’s my sincere hope that our experience can help businesses across New Jersey restore their operations to normal more quickly so that, in time, we can get back to the things we love about this state we all call home.