Consumer Beware: electrical providers are reporting the following scams being targeted at their customers on a statewide basis in Iowa.
More information: https://bit.ly/3g3OpfK
In connection with the May 27, 2020, expiration of Governor Kim Reynolds’ proclamation that eases restrictions and permits the reopening of some businesses, the Iowa Utilities board (IUB) today issued an order that establishes requirements that Iowa utilities must follow before they can resume disconnections of customers’ utility service.
Today’s order provides that municipal utilities providing electric and natural gas service and electric cooperatives may resume the disconnection of gas or electric service, subject to conditions and requirements, on or after May 28, 2020.The order allows investor-owned utilities that are rate-regulated by the IUB to resume the disconnection of natural gas, electric, and water service, subject to conditions and requirements, on or after July 1, 2020.
The conditions and requirements in today’s order establish a phase-in approach to disconnections and give customers time to contact a community action agency or other organization for available assistance if needed. In addition, the phase-in will allow customers who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and who may not be familiar with the IUB’s disconnection process time to seek financial assistance from or enter into a payment agreement with the utility.
In order to initiate the process for the disconnection of a customer, the utility must comply with the IUB’s current disconnection rules. If the utility has previously provided a 12-day notice prior to May 21, 2020,it must provide an additional seven-day disconnection notice and contact the customer by telephone or door hanger 48 hours prior to date of disconnection. The telephone contact must be to a person in the residence and not to a messaging device.
In addition, each customer subject to disconnection must be allowed a 30-day extension of disconnection for any special health condition,pursuant to IUB rules,and if either of the following conditions applies:
Investor-owned electric, natural gas, and water utilities are subject to the same disconnection requirements set out for municipal electric and natural gas utilities and electric cooperatives. In addition, an investor-owned utility may decide to waive some portion, or all, of a customer’s past due amount, or enter into an alternate payment agreement for the past due amount. If an investor-owned utility waives a portion of a customer’s past due bill, the utility may include those amounts in a regulatory asset account approved by the IUB.
Income-eligible Iowans may continue to apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) program through the extended deadline of June30, 2020, as approved by the Iowa Department of Human Rights.
Customers who are unable to reach a resolution with their utility may call the IUB at 877.565.4450 (toll-free) or 515.725.7300 or email email@example.com. Any customer who has a complaint about utility service and is unable to resolve the issue with their utility may use the IUB online complaint form to file a complaint with the IUB.
From Margret Meade, Safety Outreach Coordinator
Someone posed this question to me yesterday. I had often ‘heard’ of a person being burnt while striking a match or a lighter with hands that were still wet from an alcohol-based sanitizer; another accident seemingly stemmed from a static discharge when the victim touched a metal surface. I have seen several pictures, all from uncited sources, of burns and blisters to the hands and forearms as being proof of the flammable qualities of hand sanitizer and the likelihood of a burn with hands damp from sanitizer. But does that flammable quality apply to a container in a hot vehicle? Would the container rupture and burn? There are many variables to consider when answering that question. What temperature is ‘hot’? What is the quantity of the material in storage? How much flammable liquid by volume is in the product? Is the product in the glove box (no direct sun) or on the seat (direct sun)? What are the storage directions on the container label?
Let’s start with a bottle of 8 ounces of hand sanitizer made up of 70% ethyl alcohol that we have stored in our vehicle. For consumer use, meaning the product can be purchased over the counter and used or stored in small quantities, the best place to find information regarding that product is right on the manufacturer’s label. I looked up several different brands of hand sanitizer, both gel and foam, read the labels and each time the directions stated that the product was to be stored below 110° F. According to www.heatkills.org “At 70 degrees on a sunny day, after a half hour, the temperature inside a car is 104 degrees. After an hour, it can reach 113 degrees. When temperatures outside range from 80 degrees to 100 degrees, the temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly climb to between 130 to 172 degrees.” How can a product that is flammable and kept in a plastic bottle in a vehicle be safe when stored in such temperatures?
I reached out to customer support at GOJO®, the manufacturer of Purell® hand sanitizer, and asked about the potential for container rupture or flash fires of their product when stored at high temperatures. I received this response: Subject: GOJO Customer Service Case #01016758I Hello, You should avoid letting the product sit in temperatures above 110 degrees F. The sanitizer is safe above that temperature but you run the risk of the alcohol evaporating. Thanks firstname.lastname@example.org. So it seems that the reason behind the storage limitations (not above 110°F) is the alcohol evaporation (quality) and not the packaging integrity (safety).
A search of the Consumer Product Safety Commission database of notices due to accidents or safety issues yielded no results. I searched several watchdog websites but did not find a confirmed case of any size container rupture of any alcohol-based sanitizer product or related accidents.
The rules are different for those businesses that store hand sanitizer product in larger quantities or transfer the product from a larger to a smaller container. Under OSHA’s Hazard Communication regulation, a safety data sheet must be available to inform employees of the hazards of this product during handling, use or storage. The SDS for Purell® gel hand sanitizer lists the hazard as a Category 3 flammable liquid and posts the pictograms for ‘flammable’ and ‘irritant’. The main ingredient of this hand sanitizer is ethyl alcohol and it has a flash point of 77° F. This means that the product starts to evaporate at that temperature. This is important to understand because, as with all flammable liquids, the vapor (not the liquid) burns so keeping any product with a Category 1-4 rating away from flames or heat sources is a must. Always review the SDS for special handling precautions before transferring hand sanitizer (or any chemical) from large containers into secondary containers.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers must be stored away from all heat and ignition sources, including sparks, open flames, any types of electrical outlets, switches or equipment, and extreme heat. Make sure that the cover is tightly closed and that the container is not damaged in any way. Spilled hand sanitizer should be cleaned up with water immediately. For small quantity consumer use of any chemical, always read and follow the directions on the label.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain public employers and private employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Each covered employer must post in a conspicuous place on its premises a notice of FFCRA requirements. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.
Click here for more information.
Click here to download a FFCRA poster.
IAMU is once again offering the Electric Utility System Operation Short Course (EUSO) presented by Skip Collier of Professional Training Systems, Inc.
Skip is highly regarded and has an extensive background in electric utility design, construction, maintenance and operation.
EUSO Short Course: July 28 – 30
The EUSO Short Course is designed for any employee whose job performance will benefit from a basic understanding of the operations side of the business. This includes those from legal, rates, engineering, purchasing, computer application, marketing, customer service, inventory control, finance, accounting, safety, risk analysis as well as those from generating plants. One goal for this class is to have students leave with the ability to easily identify all of the electrical equipment they see in a substation as they walk by, along with all the equipment found on the poles in a residential area. Non-electrical engineers are often at a disadvantage in the electric utility environment due to a lack of familiarity with technical issues. The better you understand the utility’s product – electrical energy – and how it is created and distributed, the better you can serve the utility and your customers. This course assumes no electrical background, and builds on the basics to provide a comprehensive understanding of the equipment and operations.
Line Maintainer apprentices will receive 21 Basic OJT hours for taking the EUSO Course.
Registration fees for the course are below.
(*If you are planning on sending more than one participant from your organization, please make sure to share this with multiple departments so that you qualify for the reduced cost with the initial registration.)
Due to the ever changing nature of the ongoing COVID19 public health emergency, the status of the training workshop is subject to change.
You may PRE-REGISTER now. Invoicing will be sent out as the date draws closer, and IAMU can confirm that the training will take place.
For additional information and to register, please click HERE.
From EPA, May 8, 2020
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is providing information that public water systems, building owners, building managers, and businesses should use to minimize water stagnation during extended closures and to address building water quality.
Guidance document (.pdf, 4 pages)
Checklist (.pdf, 1 page)
On May 1, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) issued an order that officially requested that municipal utilities report certain delinquent account information. Specifically the order says the following:
Through September 4, 2020, all municipal electric, gas, and water utilities, rural electric cooperative utilities, and rural water associations are requested to provide to the Board information, updated every two weeks, related to the number of utility customer accounts which are currently in arrears and the total amount in arrears for each class type. The information shall include whether those accounts are 30, 60, 90, or more than 90 days in arrears, specifying the number of such accounts and dollar amount of arrears for each of the customer classes of residential, commercial, and industrial. The information should also include revenue loss, expenses, and other financial impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The full text of the order can be found here:
IAMU has been in discussions with the Board about this order in order to clarify both what the IUB needs from us as well as what we are best able to provide. To that end, IAMU has produced the following FAQ to help with this reporting.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) needs to assess the impact of the pandemic in Iowa. To assist in these efforts, please complete this survey, developed by University of Northern Iowa – Institute for Decision Making, to tell us what your business is experiencing and how your business is handling the current crisis.
IEDA will use the information collected in this survey to inform its public policy in response to the crisis, as well as potential assistance to businesses.
Survey link: https://uni.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eEvflFbz3FG5iBf
Join the experts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) and the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) on Wednesday, June 10th at 12:00 PM Central Time. The webinar will feature:
Register today to earn free continuing education units (CEUs) and learn how your utility can meet your AWIA deadlines. Webinar speakers will discuss tools and resources small systems can utilize to develop risk and resilience assessments and emergency response plans that comply with the requirements of AWIA.
This webinar is just one of many EPA Water Security Division webinars. You can find upcoming workshops and webinars here.