Extensive Disaster Planning at Electric & Gas Utilities Means Lights Will Stay On




WASHINGTON - Commercial and industrial businesses can rest assured that the current pandemic poses no real threat to our utilities, as disaster planning has been key to electric and gas utilities in recent years, writes Forbes. Beginning a decade ago, the utility and energy industries evolved detailed pandemic plans, which include putting off maintenance and routine activities until the worst of the pandemic has passed, restricting site access to essential personnel, and being able to run on a skeleton crew as more and more people become ill.

One possible outcome of the current situation is that the US electric industry may require essential staff to live onsite at power plants and control centers if the outbreak worsens; bedding, food and other supplies are being stockpiled, Reuters reported. The Great River Energy cooperative, for example, has had a plan to sequester essential staff in place since the H1N1 bird flu crisis in 2009. The cooperative, which runs 10 power plants in Minnesota, says its disaster planning ensured it has enough cots, blankets and other necessities on site to keep staff healthy.

Electricity providers are now taking part in twice-weekly phone calls with officials at the DOE, the Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies, according to the Los Angeles Times. By planning for a variety of worst case scenarios, “I have confidence that the sector will be prepared to respond no matter how this evolves,” says Scott Aaronson, VP of security and preparedness for the Edison Electric Institute.



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