Pandemic Generates New Challenges, New Solutions

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Burns & McDonnell

Fortnightly Magazine - July 2020

One of the few constants over the last few months is our need for affordable, reliable electricity, gas, water, and communications. With healthcare and other essential facilities requiring uninterrupted power, our ability to stay powered, online, healthy, and productive is critical.

Our expectations for electric power remain unchanged, yet utilities and the power industry face numerous challenges throughout this pandemic. Many utility workers classified as nonessential have been working from home.

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Field employees are being asked to function with minimal support from service centers. Load is shifting from commercial and industrial customers to residential customers. Utilities are being forced to reevaluate upgrades and maintenance work, because outages can no longer be taken. Numerous projects will experience work stoppages due to resource constraints, outage planning issues, and substantial reprioritization.

Navigating the pandemic creates an increased need for the use of new approaches and technologies to solve everyday problems, pushing engineers and builders around the globe to adapt and adjust to new environments.

Nevertheless, engineers are problem solvers at heart. No matter the situation or the challenge, engineers are always working to discover different, more efficient ways to approach a problem. As the many industries we touch shift and change, so do those challenges, giving rise to new issues and causing us to discover solutions never thought of before.

In the following articles, professionals at Burns & McDonnell explore some of the most important topics our industry faces at this time and discuss opportunities to help electric utilities provide the safe and reliable power customers expect.