Planning for Catastrophic Power Loss

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Governance, Risk, and Compliance

Levy EdBy Ed Levy, Firestorm Expert Council Member and Senior Security Expert

Summary: From Emergency Management Magazine:  The U.S. energy grid comprises some 160,000 miles of high-voltage lines, 5 million miles of distribution lines, thousands of generators and transformers, and tens of thousands of other pieces of equipment, The Wall Street Journal reported, adding: “It is difficult to imagine hardening so massive a structure against random, natural disturbances; it is almost inconceivable that it could be hardened against deliberate and intelligent attacks.”

So there’s widespread agreement that such an outage is possible and even likely. So what happens when the lights go out for a couple of months?

Analysis:  After reading the article, wasn’t sure if I should be building a bunker in my backyard while researching dystopian survival guides.  The scenarios are realistic.

I was myselfy a victim during Hurricane Sandy.  I completely understood the impact of a power loss and need for a generator.  Having never lost electrical power during previous storms, after several years in my home, my decision was to invest in home improvement needs.  Hurricane Sandy proved me wrong and have since installed a propane generator, not as a home improvement, but for home and family survival.  The impact of my gamble was minimal and I plan on cutting potential future losses  – the question begs for corporate boards, C-Suite executives, and business owners…what are they are willing to risk?  

BCPPPDisaster Denial

The disaster denial thought process remains viral. Mother Nature and history has proven many wrong.  Homeowners and small business owners have a range of zero, limited, or a full range of options when it comes to preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.  The scenario range is different, for larger companies, especially when governance, risk, and compliance are factored in.  The capital is likely there to invest in business resiliency, but then the questions and visibility can be protracted to the right and wrong executives, where disaster denial becomes prevalent and the gamble is made with other people’s resources.

Resiliency and Preparedness are Brand Attributes

Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) is universally applied in a manner corporate executives use to direct and control activities; analyze and respond to risks; and maintain compliance with applicable laws, policies, and processes.  When it comes to disaster due diligence I have seen a range of the good, the bad, and the ugly where disaster preparedness is an essential component of GRC.  This is embedded into a mature Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) and Enterprise Security Risk Management Process. Conversely, on a range to complete the lesser concern of a “back office” view, when little is applied for analysis, planning, preparedness and the focus of importance only emerges as a response to the present.  Perceptions can become further diluted with international companies because the reality checks of disaster impacts are further away – with a lesser visibility into the market impact analysis of a disaster.

The reality is that we can “what if” a multitude of scenarios.  The reality also is that natural and manmade disaster and accidents will continue to occur.  ERM applied with a Predict.Plan.Perform methodology helps companies guide and prioritize the element of disaster risk management into an objective and transparent manner for senior decision makers to review and wager resources against.  

A progressive view of disaster preparedness is lesser viewed as the “cost of doing business”, but essentially “the cost of preserving business”.

About Ed Levy:  Edward M. Levy is a seasoned and innovative, senior security executive with over 29 years of experience leading people and complex organizations in the corporate and US Government sectors.

Mr. Levy is the former Vice President, Global Head of Security for Thomson Reuters (NYSE/TSX: TRI), and he was the Director of Security for the Empire State Building.

Previously, he was the Director and Vice President of Global Security & Business Continuity for the CIT Group (NYSE: CIT), a leading financial and commercial lending firm, with its global headquarters in New York City. Read his full Bio Here

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