How BC Hydro kept the lights on at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic


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In control centers in the Lower Mainland and the southern interior, staff found themselves in an unprecedented situation of living, eating and doing laundry at their workplace for 10 consecutive days.

Hallborg said that prior to the pandemic, staff typically faced one of two scenarios: a “normal” workday devoted to surveillance systems, or an emergency situation, such as a wind or storm. snow.

“The pandemic was completely new,” he said.

While COVID-19 was not predicted, BC Hydro has business continuity plans for extreme situations, the most notable being a set of earthquake procedures.

At the end of February, the utility began implementing a modified business continuity plan for the pandemic based on feedback from health officials in British Columbia.

On March 25, screening staff were confined or “locked away at work for 10 consecutive days,” Hallborg said. BC Hydro was the third utility in North America to achieve this milestone, although more followed.

Fourteen RVs were installed in the parking lots of the control center, as well as a catering and laundry service.

For five weeks, teams of control center staff worked and lived on site for 10 consecutive days before being kicked out by another team, minimizing the risk of an outbreak that could have sickened many people at the same time. . Staff were asked to self-isolate before coming in for their rotation, while the 26 large desks with more than a dozen computer screens on each, were thoroughly cleaned between shifts.

After five weeks, the sequestration ended without a single case of COVID-19 among staff. Additional cleaning, physical distancing and other protocols continue.


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