SECO Energy was informed late Tuesday afternoon that a SECO Energy warehouse administrative employee may have had an exposure to a Citrus County resident who has been tested for COVID-19 but results are not available. The employee serves in an administrative role with the cooperative and has limited contact with the public and other employees. The employee is asymptomatic and has been placed in quarantine as a precaution along with the employees with whom he was in contact.
The reliability of SECO’s electric service plays a critical role in SECO members’ health and wellbeing. To keep its employees healthy and ready to serve its members, the cooperative has made changes to mitigate health risks related to member and public interaction.
SECO Energy’s Sumterville headquarters and adjacent campus are temporarily closed to public access for any vendor or delivery without an approved appointment or scheduled delivery. SECO’s five Member Service Centers are equipped with counter-to-ceiling glass barriers for employee and member protection. As such, SECO has decided not to close any Member Service Centers at this time. SECO field personnel are practicing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended social distancing standard of maintaining a six-foot barrier with members. Employees and members are asked to use email and phone communication in lieu of in-person meetings whenever possible and to practice social distancing when in-person meetings are unavoidable.
Most importantly, SECO Energy activated its Emergency Response Plan (ERP) on March 9 in response to the Coronavirus situation. CEO Jim Duncan stated, “SECO Energy provides electricity which is an essential service in preserving public health and quality of life in today’s world. The cooperative’s ERP ensures it can maintain a 24/7 workforce, preserve SECO’s ability to maintain its electric system and provide an acceptable level of member service even in the face of employee impact with Coronavirus. Our members depend on us to provide reliable electric service, and that’s even more important as our largely senior demographic practices social distancing at home to remain healthy.”
Duncan continued, “SECO has proactively waived late payment fees, and we will allow additional payment arrangement time to members affected by the Coronavirus situation.” If a member has difficulty paying an electric bill during this declared emergency, it’s easy and private to request an automated payment arrangement through our new automated IVR phone system. Members can also log into SmartHub to request a payment arrangement online.
SECO has other ways to help members in need through a corporate citizenship initiative called Pennies from Heaven. The program helps fund local United Way chapters managed through Florida 211 for bill payment assistance for SECO members. Members who need assistance with utilities, food, and other household expenses are encouraged to contact 211.