Our Cooperative Response to COVID-19 with Matthew Collins, GM of Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative
Matthew Collins, General Manager of Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative, sits down with our host, Bazi Kanani, to discuss how his cooperative has responded to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across our cooperative family, amazing work is being done by our members as business practices have piloted in an effort to tackle challenges related to COVID-19. As part of this series, Bazi Kanani interviews CEOs from our member cooperatives and public power districts to discuss how they are responding during this difficult time.
Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Moriarty, serves 11 counties across New Mexico. Matthew Collins discusses how his cooperative's day-to-day operations have changed in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also highlights some of the ways Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative is showing concern for their community, a driving cooperative principle, through financial support and community outreach.
To learn more about what Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative is doing in their communities, watch the video below.
Read the Interview Transcript Here
"We're still doing our business as usual and keeping the lights on and making sure that everybody's got electricity. That's the cornerstone of our industry and our cooperative way." - Matthew Collins
Bazi: Serving members across 11 counties, the Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative is putting safety first during this viral pandemic. In this series, we're learning more about how cooperatives are responding to the crisis while making sure vital electricity is something their members can count on.
Joining this video call is Matthew Collins. He is CEO of Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative and, Matthew, can you just tell us a bit about what type of measures you put in place to keep your employees healthy?
Mathew: From the beginning of the response, we closed the doors to the public but we remained open for business. We started instituting a lot of work-at-home procedures for employees that could work at home. It was a gradual process. Those that were easily able to start the transition from work at home, we immediately began those folks to start working at home and then we gradually increased the amount of employees to start working at home that we could get at home based on the technology that was available.
Then we also started working with our linemen to start working on a different work schedule, for day-on and day-off process. A lot of the essential employees, we've started doing a work schedule change and then broadening the safety distance and responsible measures that were put in place for social distancing and for safety to everybody.
Bazi: And as you put those changes in place, I imagine not everyone had the same reaction. So, Matthew, how have you responded to questions like that from your employees?
Mathew: So at the beginning, the reaction was mixed. There were some that were taking this case seriously and some were thinking that we were overreacting. We wanted to make sure that everybody was treated exactly the same. We wanted to limit the exposure both to our employees and to the public, so in that case, everybody was told that safety is the key to this, and also to keep doing business as usual. Keep the lights on for our membership. To make sure that we were all doing our job and making sure that we were all safe for each other and for others around us.
Bazi: One of the cooperative values is concern for community. Can you tell us a bit more about how that has played a role in your response.
Mathew: Yes. Central New Mexico Electric at this time is working on the beginning processes for reaching out to all the local restaurants that we serve in our service territory and somehow maybe looking at providing financial assistance in order to begin our process for like a brown-bag lunch program for the elderly or for those needy in our territory to help during this time.
Some of the things that we're doing is community outreach on social media platforms to provide financial assistance through different avenues that they can access points of information for financial assistance. The state has provided a lot of means for the information to go out, so that they can get some help monetarily.
Also the biggest thing right now is just for community outreach for the co-op is to make sure that everybody understands that we're still doing our business as usual and keeping the lights on and making sure that everybody's got electricity. That's the cornerstone of our industry and our cooperative way.
Bazi: It's something we definitely need. Matthew Collins is CEO of Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative. Matthew, thank you for your time today.
Mathew: Thank you. Thank you for letting me speak and share what we're doing.
COVID-19 Community Response
As a family of electric cooperatives and public power districts, our distribution members reach consumers at the end of the line, many of whom have been directly impacted by COVID-19. To learn about our response, how our members are responding and the amazing work being done in communities across the West, watch our videos and read the articles here.
Tri-State is a not-for-profit cooperative of 46 members, including 43 member utility electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts in four states, that together deliver reliable, affordable and responsible power to more than a million electricity consumers across nearly 200,000 square miles of the West. For more information about Tri-State and our Responsible Energy Plan, visit www.tristate.coop.