U.S. utilities look at improving power supply as more work from home

(Reuters) - Public Service Group Inc is looking to strengthen the power system serving residential customers now that more people are working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. utility’s chief executive said on Thursday.

Speaking at CERAWeek by IHS Markit, CEO Ralph Izzo said “reliability and resiliency in that last mile will take on a whole new meaning. We will rethink working from home in the future.”

“If you interrupt power to the home, people are not going to be able to work, they’re not going to be able to drive, they’re not going to be able to communicate,” Izzo said, noting about half of PSEG’s workforce was working from home.

He explained that power to commercial centers, like Newark, New Jersey, where PSEG is based, consists of multiple big power lines with lots of redundancy.

“I’ve been working from home for 11 months and I have one ... wire that feeds this house and that’s it,” Izzo said.

Also speaking at CERAWeek, American Electric Power Co Inc’s CEO Nick Akins said “work from home activity will continue.”

“Our residential load is up considerably,” Akins said, noting “This gives us an opportunity to focus on the infrastructure necessary to ensure that the residential customer is dealt with the same degree of reliability as typically ... our large industrials and commercials have been dealt with.”

In answer to a question about working from home and cybersecurity, Akins said many of AEP’s employees now have servers at home to interface with the company’s network.

“Cybersecurity is definitely an issue for the electric utility industry ... now we have to think about the business systems particularly in the work from home environment,” Akins said.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy