California’s coronavirus lockdown has shone a spotlight on the state’s energy sector, and the eventual recovery to a new-normal economy will require a key role for clean energy, according to Edison International (EI) CEO Pedro Pizarro.

NGI Earnings Coverage
NGI Earnings Coverage

“The reality is that the scale of the Covid-19 crisis has required us to make a number of policy changes on the fly, and we continue to learn,” Pizarro said during a conference call with analysts last Thursday.

The company’s Southern California Edison Co. (SCE) unit has transitioned nearly two-thirds of its employees to telework while maintaining essential services, including accelerated wildfire mitigation work, Pizarro said. “Frontline workers and employees supporting mainline functions remain in the field while observing appropriate social distancing measures,” he said.

Pizarro said government and business officials throughout the state are trying to determine if the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to alter lifestyles once the virus crisis is put to rest. “It is probably still too early to say with any certainty, but we are already preparing for the potential of long-term changes,” he said.

“As California begins to plan the future of work in a post-crisis environment, clean energy can play a critical role in a just and equitable economic recovery with thousands of good jobs that also address issues of climate change and air quality,” Pizarro said.

The utility is looking at more automation, refinement in the numbers of customers impacted, and the use of more back-up generators in the public safety power shutoff program, Pizarro said.

The pandemic is expected to have no impact on SCE’s long-term revenues or earnings.

EI reported 1Q2020 net income of $183 million (50 cents/share), compared with $278 million (85 cents) for the first quarter in 2019. SCE reported 1Q2020 net income of $219 million (60 cents), compared with $293 million (63 cents) for the same period last year.