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Disasters shouldn't zap energy supply.

While natural disasters and accidents have always been part of our world, recent events have demonstrated the need to go beyond the usual level of preparation. When examining a firm's disaster recovery plan, one area that may need attention involves the handling of one's energy supplies, at both the technical and organizational levels.

That's the message of "Thinking Ahead About the Unthinkable," the October Tip of the Month at, a service of Energywiz, Inc. Energywiz is a New York-based energy consulting firm focused on helping commercial/industrial energy customers and their consultants get the most out of the competitive energy marketplace.

After the towers collapsed, several energy supply problems immediately became apparent. Customers whose buildings had been damaged but whose electric and gas services were reestablished could not return and reopen their businesses. Beyond the horrendous losses of life and property, disaster recovery was further complicated by a loss of documentation and information access. Issues related to Force Majeure had to be handled, as well as the loss of gas service needed to maintain boiler operations downstream from WTC. Surviving employees managing those contracts were dispersed to other locations and lacked access to their records. Various energy billing and payment issues also needed attention. While such problems pale next to the death and destruction that occurred on Sept. 11, they made a return to normalcy even more difficult.

"It is essential that many firms review their recovery plans and upgrade them as needed to be ready for such disasters," said Energywiz, Inc. president Lindsay Audin. "While assisting clients with their recovery, it became obvious that some additional planning was needed." Issues identified in the Tip of the Month include:

* Have a duplicate set of up-to-date base building/utility plans and energy account data (e.g., contracts, account numbers, contact names) stored at a protected site with access available to consultant or contractor when needed by the customer.

* Designate energy contracts manager and a backup person to handle such issues from an alternate location. Contact information on all personnel involved in handling those issues should include home telephone numbers, mailing and email addresses, etc., because operation from home offices may become necessary for an initial period following a disaster.

* Dual-fueled (or oi1-fired) boilers using natural gas pilot lights should be immediately upgraded to electronic ignition, or else a supply of bottled gas/propane kept available to maintain gas-fired ignition during pipeline disruptions.

"Being prepared for disasters makes good business sense," said Audin, "but when such disasters become intentional, being prepared should also be seen as one way to blunt the impact sought by America's enemies."
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 17, 2001
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