We’re All in this Together #UTCStrong

 

We’re All in this Together #UTCStrong

As I type this up, it has nearly been one month since the UTC staff has gone back to remote work. Even though we did this last year during our office move, this is different. We all know why.

Still, despite the worries around the pandemic, in many ways this has brought the UTC team closer together. Even though we are much farther apart physically, we make it a priority to hold weekly meetings and even started holding happy hours on Friday afternoons so we can see each other, crack a few jokes, create some smiles, share funny stories about our kids or pets interfering our conference calls, so on and so forth. In fact, at the end of March, we celebrated a few UTC birthdays with a virtual gathering—while I can’t speak for the staff I know it boosted my spirits.

In thinking about how we are literally far apart from each other, I am reminded time and again that we are all in this together. This doesn’t just apply to the UTC staff, but our incredible members who are out on the front lines of this crisis, keeping our lights on and powering our economy. You are not only the lifeblood of UTC, but of our country as a whole.

And when we put some context around it, all of our essential workers across the U.S. and the world are in this together. Prior to joining UTC I worked in the healthcare industry, which gives me a deep and sincere appreciation for everyone out there on the front lines, from the nurses and doctors treating so many people, to the utility workers out there living in tight corners in control rooms, sacrificing time away from your families so we can have reliable electricity as we hunker down at home.

There has always been a synergy between the healthcare industry and ours—they need electricity to function and we need them to bring us back to health when we get sick. But during this pandemic, these lines are strengthened even more. Our crews need to stay safe and healthy so we can provide the electricity to hospitals and homes across the country. We truly are all in this together.

And for those utilities providing broadband service, the ties between our industries are even more clear. Rural areas in particular face unique challenges in dealing with this pandemic, as the population in these locations tends to be older, and the closest hospital might be more than an hour away. In these areas, telehealth is of upmost importance, but as we all know, many rural areas lack high-quality broadband services.

But a number of rural electric utilities are stepping in once again to connect their communities. Several UTC members are either providing broadband directly in some of these areas or determining whether and how they can offer “middle-mile” services to local broadband companies. Not every utility is able to do this, but for those who can, you know you are providing a tremendous benefit to your communities. Those of us suddenly working from home and balancing our new roles as teachers for our young kids rely on broadband to do just about everything. I am so honored to work for an industry that provides so much for their communities.

As far as UTC goes, we are working on your behalf in Washington and all over the country to be your advocates and bring you critical, relevant content that you can’t get anywhere else. We’ve got a slate of webinars in April and May on broadband issues—you’ll be seeing more about this soon. We are also working intently on numerous important issues pending before the Federal Communications Commission and in Congress that impact your work. Although we are working remotely, I don’t think the UTC staff has ever been busier.

I look forward to seeing everyone once the travel bans are lifted and we can resume our slate of meetings. In the meantime, we are here for you and remember—because we are all in this together, we will rise out of it together.