Cuddy and Feder Law Firms New York
Cuddy and Feder Law Firms New York

This is the second blog in a three-part series about near-, middle-, and long-term impact for the Energy Sector in New York.

Essential Workers and Businesses in Energy

Throughout March 2020, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a series of Executive Orders declaring a State disaster emergency in order to facilitate a timely and effective response to the COVID-19 emergency. As a result, all businesses and not-for-profit entities in the state were required to maximize any telecommuting or work-from-home procedures that they could safely utilize, and each employer was mandated to reduce the in-person workforce at any work locations by 100%, with “essential business or entity providing essential services or functions” exempt from these restrictions. Since then, the New York State Department of Economic Development (ESD) has issued “Guidance For Determining Whether a Business Enterprise is Subject to a Workforce Reduction under Recent Executive Orders.”

Notably, for those in the energy sector, essential infrastructure includes “public and private utilities including but not limited to power generation, fuel supply, and transmission,” and essential construction is applicable not only if “the construction is for, or your business supports, roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or healthcare facilities, homeless shelters, or public or private schools,” but also and expressly if “the construction is for projects in the energy industry in accordance with Question No. 14 in the FAQ.” Reference to the Answer to Question No. 14 in the FAQ reveals a chart for general reference for the energy industry as follows:

Essential – those activities necessary to respond to the COVID-19 state emergency or to provide basic human services (e.g. food, shelter, safety, health & well-being)
  • Utility Operations & Maintenance and Capital Plan Activities for:
    • Existing power generation (including existing energy storage & EV infrastructure)
    • Utility scale new power generation for projects with an in-service date of September 1 or sooner
    • Existing fuel supply
    • Transmission and distribution infrastructure, including for maintenance, resilience, reliability and demand response
    • Ensuring safe and reliable service to customers
  • Energy Construction Activities Related to:
    • Existing or expanding grid or other critical infrastructure, including but not limited to service of:
      • Transit Facilities
Non-Essential – all other activities
  • Energy efficiency in existing buildings – all sectors
  • New power generation – except the above essential
  • New energy storage – except the above essential
  • New construction – except the above essential
  • New EV infrastructure
Emergency – health and safety
  • Projects necessary to protect health and safety of building occupants, utility customers, or the public including continuation of existing work to extent necessary to create a safe site

Essential Businesses, however, must continue to comply with the guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment issued by the Department of Health (DOH), and every business, even if essential, is strongly urged to maintain social distancing measures to the extent possible. For more information contact

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