In three months, the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has spread to 209 countries, infecting more than a million people worldwide and impacting global economies, including the power sector.
Despite being hit by the lockdown measures imposed by several states, utility companies have been at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic, not only by providing electricity to customers but also by taking part in charity initiatives.
Power Technology investigates five power companies and what they are doing to support societies and healthcare systems around the world.
The French multinational has launched a series of initiatives to support the general public and healthcare workers, including setting up a €2m emergency fund.
The funding – which will be distributed in France and abroad – includes €1m to support healthcare professionals and vulnerable people during the emergency. The remaining funds will be directed to protect the most vulnerable once the pandemic comes to an end.
EDF has also pledged to sustain its suppliers by reducing the time to settle invoices. According to the company, micro-enterprises will be paid by the middle of April while small and medium-sized companies will receive their payments by the end of the month.
With more than 132,000 total cases at time of writing, Italy is one of the countries that was hit the hardest by the pandemic.
With the country’s national healthcare system facing severe difficulties, Italian electricity supplier Enel has taken action to help cope with the situation.
Enel has donated €23m to support Italian authorities and hospitals, providing beds and machinery.
Enel president Patrizia Grieco said: “We are an Italian multinational with strong ties with the territory. It’s natural but also a duty to aid the territories where we operate and the communities we work with every day.”
The company has also decided to donate free access to its grid to hospitals and structures involved in the cure of coronavirus.
The French multinational is undertaking initiatives in several countries.
In Italy, Engie is providing hospitals with free electricity and technical assistance for the construction or extension of new medical units.
In Belgium, the company has donated 8,800 protective garments used in nuclear plants to healthcare professionals, including protective masks, gloves and overalls.
Alongside Medecins Sans Frontieres, Engie has also transformed a hostel into a local treatment centre in two weeks.
Alongside Italy, Spain another country hit hardest by the pandemic, with 140,510 cases, leading national energy company Iberdrola to ramp up its efforts to support consumers and the healthcare system.
The company has coordinated with local authorities to set up dedicated services that will guarantee energy security to hospitals.
Iberdrola chairman Ignacio Galán said: “This comprehensive plan is allowing us to guarantee the continuity of the electricity supply to the entire population, while deploying human and technical resources to reinforce sensitive pieces of infrastructure, like hospitals and healthcare facilities.”
Iberdrola has also donated 8,000 blankets to various hospitals and nursing homes across the country as part of its pledge to donate €25m worth of medical equipment.
The UK electricity provider has donated £500,000 to the National Emergency Trust (NET) and the Russell Trust, which aim to provide aid during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
National Grid UK executive director Nicola Shaw commented: “We’re proud to support these two important charities and to be playing our part in helping the most vulnerable in society.
“I hope that, through these contributions, we will be able to quickly get help to the many elderly, homeless and families living in poverty at this troubling time.”
In the US, the company has directed $500,000 to customers affected by the pandemic.
National Grid has partnered up with organisations such as the Boston Resiliency Fund and Island Harvest, providing support to families in the states of Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.