Our Cooperative Response to COVID-19 with Chance Briscoe, GM of Northwest Rural PPD
Chance Briscoe, General Manager of Northwest Rural Public Power District (PPD), sits down with our host, Bazi Kanani, to discuss how his PPD has responded to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across our cooperative family, amazing work is being done by our members as business practices have piloted in an effort to tackle challenges related to COVID-19. As part of this series, Bazi Kanani interviews CEOs from our member cooperatives and public power districts to discuss how they are responding during this difficult time.
Northwest Rural PPD, serving three counties in the Nebraska Panhandle, hasn't seen a positive case of COVID-19 yet, but they are operating under the assumption they could at any moment. Taking such precautions has made daily life different, especially in such a small community accustomed to interacting in person. But Chance describes how they are adapting and using technology to share information with their members and keep the power on in their rural communities.
To learn more about what Northwest Rural PPD is doing in their communities, watch the video below.
Read the Interview Transcript Here
"We're still finding ways to do what we need to get done to keep the power on in rural communities. The requirements to stay at home and maintain distance has been a hard adjustment. Northwest Rural is a small company in a small town, and we're used to interacting in person." - Chance Briscoe
Bazi: Serving communities in three counties in the Nebraska Panhandle, the Northwest Rural Public Power District is staying prepared during this viral pandemic. In this series, we're learning more about how Tri-State members are responding to the crisis while making sure vital electricity is something their communities can count on.
Joining this video call is Chance Briscoe. He is the General Manager of Northwest Rural. Chance, last time we talked, the coronavirus had not yet reached your area, but you're still taking precautions?
Chance: That's right, Bazi. We're fortunate that we aren't seeing the spread of the virus yet, here in our territory that we serve. But there are cars in other parts of the Nebraska Panhandle.
At Northwest Rural, we've been taking steps to implement social distancing to mitigate the likelihood of the spread to our other employees. The office is closed to the public. Inside, we only have three employees working at any one time. The others are working from home, and they rotate in and out on a day to day basis.
As for our operations crews, they've been split into two-man teams. They depart from their homes to job sites, drive separate vehicles to the job sites and maintain a six to 10-foot social distance while they're at the job sites working.
Bazi: So change is often hard. How has that been for you and your employees as you're having to learn how to work in all of these new ways?
Chance: We've been finding that it's harder to be as productive. But fortunately, we've had no major problems. We're still finding ways to do what we need to get done to keep the power on in rural communities.
The requirements to stay at home and maintain distance has been a hard adjustment. Northwest Rural is a small company in a small town, and we're used to interacting in person. My job usually involves a lot of meetings and a lot of travel to different places, so I'm missing that connection with my peers.
Bazi: Especially without being able to meet face to face, communities have really turned to social media as a way to stay informed and to stay connected. How has that been part of your response?
Chance: We still do some newspaper and radio communications, but mostly our updates have moved to Facebook. So through this, we're posting information there about anything related to our operations during the pandemic.
Information on how [members] can pay their bills online since they can't come into the offices. Warnings about the increase of fraud during the pandemic. Scammers are calling and pretending to be from the utility company to get money. And we've been sharing information and reminders from the local health districts about things we should all be doing to stay safe and slow the spread of the virus in the Panhandle of Nebraska.
Bazi: Definitely important reminders. Chance Briscoe is with Northwest Rural Public Power District. Thanks for you time, Chance.
Chance: Thank you, Bazi.
COVID-19 Community Response
As a family of electric cooperatives and public power districts, our distribution members reach consumers at the end of the line, many of whom have been directly impacted by COVID-19. To learn about our response, how are members are responding and the amazing work being done in communities across the West, watch our videos and read the articles here.
Tri-State is a not-for-profit cooperative of 46 members, including 43 member utility electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts in four states, that together deliver reliable, affordable and responsible power to more than a million electricity consumers across nearly 200,000 square miles of the West. For more information about Tri-State and our Responsible Energy Plan, visit www.tristate.coop.