By Michael Gilbert
Temperatures are dropping and energy prices are rising – a sure sign that winter is here.
Despite the combined annual unpleasantness of cold and cost, we are fortunate in the UK to have a robust and reliable energy infrastructure. We’ve become accustomed to having gas and electricity on demand, but even the best infrastructure has vulnerabilities.
As we experience the first breath of winter, it is sensible to think about what disruption to gas and electricity supplies could mean to your organisation. Are you prepared for the possible shutdown of production, or damage to plants and systems? It’s an aspect of business continuity that many companies have not properly considered yet the results could be extremely serious.
What can be done to protect against disruption? Firstly, there are a few essentials that every organisation should undertake:
- Carry out a detailed risk assessment
- Understand the key criticalities and impacts of loss of services
- Understand your minimum requirements for an acceptable service
- Prioritise areas for protection or mitigation
- Review alternative supply sources and even ways of working
There are also some specific measures that you can take to defend against energy disruption to your business or organisation: for electricity, you should consider uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) for critical systems and possibly even back-up generation. Meanwhile for gas, consideration can be given to the use of alternative fuels – however these measures can be expensive and need a strong cost/benefit justification.
One simple and low-cost measure is to establish a good working relationship with your energy supplier. It is important that they understand your operational requirements as there may be things that they can do to help your resilience.
As always underpinning the approach should be a strong business continuity plan setting out the risks and the response arrangements in the event of disruption to energy supplies.