Journal: PJM Is a ‘Pandemic Response Model’

Journal of Critical Infrastructure Policy Interviews PJM President and CEO Manu Asthana

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PJM’s operational response to the coronavirus pandemic can be seen as a model for those in charge of crucial community functions, wrote the editor of The Journal of Critical Infrastructure Policy in the periodical’s Winter/Fall 2020 issue.

“My Editor’s Interview with PJM President & CEO Manu Asthana exemplifies steps taken in the energy sector to avert critical worker shortages in the pandemic. The strategies implemented by Mr. Asthana and his team could be viewed as a pandemic response model for both privately held and publicly run critical infrastructures,” wrote Richard Krieg, editor of the peer-reviewed journal published by the Policy Studies Organization in Washington, D.C.

“By ensuring worker safety in control rooms, other facilities and in the field across a 13-state region, continuous electricity was provided to 65 million people and the infrastructures serving them,” Krieg wrote.

The interview with Asthana is the first piece in the issue, which aimed to collect organizations’ shared experiences of operating during the pandemic to help heighten resilience of all critical infrastructure.

“Despite significant challenges to their operations and workforce, the energy sector did an outstanding job maintaining electric service to Americans adapting their family and work lives to unprecedented conditions,” Krieg wrote in his Editor’s Letter.

In the extensive interview, Asthana shared his views on a number of subjects, including facing the coronavirus pandemic shortly after joining PJM, adjustments in operations and changes in energy usage patterns.

Of his first year at PJM, Asthana said, “It has been fascinating and humbling. When I showed up, I wanted to make a difference, but I have learned from experience that you don’t always get to select the way you can make a difference. The script gets written, and each of us has to rise to the occasion. That is what I have aspired to do, and what I believe my people have been doing.”

He noted that PJM has had a pandemic plan dating to 2006.

“At PJM, we talk a lot about resilience – the ability to plan for, recover from and work through events that are beyond the scope of our regular emergency preparations – as we strive to ensure reliable grid operation through any and all conditions,” Asthana said.

“Now, we are living it. And we are seeing what we knew from experience – to expect the unexpected. We will come out of this pandemic with many lessons on how to confront a new, never-before-experienced phenomenon that challenged many of our previous assumptions. And we will be better for it.”

Find out more about PJM’s coronavirus response at the Pandemic Coordination page.