Utility taking extra precautions during the pandemic
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, and Peoples Gas works year-round to be ready. As Florida’s largest natural gas distribution company, the company is prepared to respond if a major storm should impact the state. And this year, the coronavirus pandemic will add new challenges to a hurricane season predicted to be active.
"We are committed to the safety of our customers, our team and our pipelines," said T.J. Szelistowski, president of Peoples Gas. "Our preparations for this year’s storm season include measures that put health first to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and ensure we are sensitive to our customers’ needs."
Customers can expect Peoples Gas employees to practice enhanced social distancing and wear appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) including masks and gloves. The company has implemented new cleaning schedules and employees are practicing proper hand-washing and personal hygiene, symptom reporting and monitoring, and other protective measures.
Everyone at Peoples Gas takes preparing for severe weather seriously. As part of its preparedness plan, the company utilizes the Incident Command System (ICS) structure, and employees actively participate in annual drills and exercises. The team works with suppliers to ensure adequate emergency response supplies are available statewide. And the company makes investments in state-of-the-art technology such as the Gas Control Center, to monitor the safety and status of the natural gas system 24 hours a day, and the mobile command center, which can travel to impacted areas and be used as a temporary workspace during restoration activities.
Peoples Gas wants customers to be prepared
Peoples Gas encourages all of its customers to have a personal storm plan in place for their home or business. Visit peoplesgas.com/stormsafety for tips, restoration information and additional guidance. Leave extra time to assemble storm kits and pay extra attention to any additional supplies needed for the pandemic.
Even if customers are asked to evacuate, there’s no need to turn off natural gas service at the meter. Service will likely operate uninterrupted throughout the storm. Customers may choose to turn off gas to individual appliances at the supply valve near each unit. The valve at the main meter should be turned on or off only by qualified Peoples Gas representatives or emergency personnel. Customers should contact a plumber or a qualified appliance service if they have difficulty relighting pilot lights.
Use care around natural gas pipelines after a storm
While natural gas service is usually resilient during storms, the underground delivery system can be damaged when trees are uprooted. Peoples Gas reminds Floridians to call 811 two business days before beginning any repair work such as digging up roots from fallen trees or repairing fences. Calling two business days before digging gives utilities enough time to mark the area – for free – with flags or paint, making it easier to dig safely and avoid service interruptions.
Peoples Gas System, Florida’s largest natural gas distribution utility, serves about 400,000 customers across the state. Peoples Gas is a subsidiary of Emera Inc., a geographically diverse energy and services company headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Sylvia Vega 813.228.4381