Emergency and Contingency Planning for Y2000

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Has anyone been involved in emergency preparedness planning process regarding potential Y2000 events? Basically, if things to go to hell in a handbag how will a command and control structure established, communication achieved, mission critical, and business critical systems be restored.

Also it seems to me that several business re-engineering process might be of value in the Y2000 investigation stage: value chain assessment for one (basically identification of critical business activities and their associated process linkages necessary for the business to function successfully). The value chains of vendors, customers, and any outsourced functions are also important since they can also be critical to business processes. Much of the y2000 material and web information I read is focused on individual assets, programs, or controllers and this makes me wonder if Y2000 efforts are stretching to examine the cross functional nature of critical business processes. For example: the critical business process of metering and data collection cuts across many functional boundries (meter reading, meter calibration and repair, billing, (deregulated areas: the power exchange, and independent system operator functions), load management functions, finance, equipment procurement, new business establishement, turn-on/turn-off, revenue protection, customer service, rates and tariffs, etc. My point is some or all of these functions/activities may be critical to the continued and safe operation of this core process and to keep the process operational the key activities and functions must first be identified followed by key systems, controllers, and programs that support the key functions. Is this going on in the Y2000 investigation process or is it being done other ways? Also what type of priority is being placed on the fixes (i.e. potential life and safetly systems first, business critical systems second, general customer support systems second, and non-critical creature comfort systems last?

-- Anonymous, April 13, 1998


Lee, I am involved in business continuity planning from a Y2k standpoint and I find your comments are right on target. Utilities have just started to think about this issue. A BC Plan for the Y2K 'event' is different from existing Contingency Recovery/emergency plans because the Y2K happening will be global in nature, and plans must consider the random, widespread and simultaneous nature of failures resulting from external sources over which we (an individual utility/business) may have little control. Interdependencies cross department and industry lines. Most CR plans are built around single event planning and as you said are focused on individual assets, programs, etc. Existing CR plans will be a component of the overall BC plan, but a key challenge will be to determine their completeness with regard to Y2K impact; whether they have been tested; and whether we have trained personnel who understand them. Most Y2K projects are focusing on preventive measures, as they should, but as we move outside of the enterprise, our plans becomes more responsive than preventive. It is important to identify not only the cross-functional dependencies within the enterprise but also the critical external dependencies/supply chain issues and develop preventive and responsive plans. This will necessitate cooperation of critical suppliers(including major industrial customers who supply energy demand), grid partners, city/county government agencies, utilities, etx. To answer your second question: While the Y2K program team should be heavily involved in BC planning, the lines of business must own the issue. I suggest a high-level business sponsor and a BC steering team to lead BC planning. Public safety and the ability to generate and deliver energy are priorities. This can be rolled up under the idea of 'avoiding business interruption' of any type.

-- Anonymous, April 30, 1998

I have approached this area by going to a scenario based plan. For each scenario I have tried to define: The cause, the results, any advanced warning timeframe, estimated duration of the event and actions to be taken in advance to soften the impact of the event.

The scenarios on my list so far include: Loss of power, loss of natural gas, loss of cogeneration plant, loss of chiller plants, loss of boilers, loss of compressed air, loss of waste water treatment plant, loss of lift stations, loss of wells or pump stations and loss of solid waste compactors.

A list of recommendations to management concerning operational changes that should be considered to further assist with dealing with these scenarios is also being developed.


-- Anonymous, August 31, 1998

I just joined the forum and found this thread of discussions of particular interest. Jim's scenario based approach to Y2K contingency planning has certain appeals over the asset-centric focus which Lee came across earlier on: the latter approach likely overlooks external events that may have significant impacts on a utility company. My issues with scenario building are as follows: (a) What serves as a basis for defining a manageable number of plausible scenarios (Otherwise the number of scenarios could be too many to plan a response for)? Is it a question of where we are in a specific supply chain which Anne referred to (generators, grid operators, energy trading market operators, distributors, retailers, service/product vendors, consumers)? Or is it the underpinning technologies (EMS, SCADA, PLC, etc)? Or the extent of business impact in a scenario if materialised? (b) Scenarios defined from a supply chain/value chain view do not normally take into consideration the likely effect of Y2K-induced failures in competitors and complementors -- firms whose products and services complement those of a power utility. In a recent gas supply crisis, large manufacturing plants that depend on both electricity and gas for energy sources were forced to shutdown, resulting in revenue losses to electricity suppliers. Y2K issues in the gas and water industries as complementors to electric utilities could potentially produce similar effect. Where should we then draw the line? (c) A possible scenario is widespread panic among utility customers who would start seeking assurance of continuity of supply and service. Should we consider advising or reminding customers, in particular those with special needs, to have their own power backups in their contingency plans? Equally important is how to communicate the advice without damaging our reputation as a reliable power company and without causing undue panic.

-- Anonymous, October 07, 1998

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