As I write this, my mind still goes back to what happened in the U.S. Capitol—indeed, our Capitol—on Jan. 6, 2021. There’s no need to rehash the details; those of us who love this country and all it stands for will never forget those images. Some of you may have seen my statement issued the day after these events. I’ll let that stand as my comment for now.
In the meantime, while we must never forget what happened on that day, we must also move forward. 2021 is upon us, and despite the dark days of this pandemic that still grips our world, we finally have cause for optimism. Not one but two vaccines are here, and many front-line workers have already received their vaccinations.
Having worked for medical suppliers in the past, I want to applaud all those who worked so tirelessly to bring us a vaccine so quickly. My family has a long professional history in the medical field so I understand how momentous this is. Everyone, from the federal government to the private industry, should be applauded for turning this around in record time. Finally, we have hope and a light at the end of the tunnel. But that light remains far off, and although I am an optimist by nature, I cannot discount the fact that the coming weeks and months ahead will be painful and tragic for far too many of us.
Still, I am heartened by the ongoing and never-ending commitment of our nation’s energy and water utility workforce to keep this nation moving. Think of all the things so many of us have sacrificed since March—visiting family, friends, and loved ones, going out, flying, traveling, etc—yet the lights have stayed on and the water has continued to flow in spite of everything. When I feel a little weak or down myself, I think of the men and women that make up UTC’s membership and all they’ve done to keep us safe and comfortable during this time. They—you—are my inspiration.
And I’ll be honest, it makes my blood boil a bit when I see how so many of my friends, family, and neighbors don’t really appreciate how much work goes into everything that UTC members do each and every day. When things are normal, most of us hardly bat an eye when the electricity comes on because we expect that it will. And yet, now that many of us are living through much different circumstances, I still do not believe people really and truly understand what UTC members do.
As President and CEO of UTC, it is my goal to change that. I want everyone to know you like l know you. I want everyone to see what you do every day to keep us safe and healthy. And quite honestly, that starts with ensuring that utility workers are among the first in line to receive the coronavirus vaccine. I know we must protect our healthcare workers and first responders, but we must also protect those who are still powering our very lives. This is even more important as the virus mutates and becomes even more contagious—because a healthy utility workforce is a national priority.
Thankfully our industry was prepared for this pandemic and I know they are prepared for anything given the amount of training and drilling that you do. I hope (and believe) that the rest of the country feels the same way. I look forward to working with everyone this year to make sure this is the case.
Thank you and please be well.