What should lifeline utilities do?

Emergency planning for lifeline utilities

Does your continuity planning address risks posed by external threats, such as from contractors or other utilities upon which you are dependent?

Do your operations staff have working relationships with central/local government and emergency services that will be effective during an emergency?

Are there mutual support arrangements with other utilities to assist in your survival?

Do you feel your sector’s response to a major event will be coordinated and thus protect the marketplace?

Can you ensure continuity of services required for essential health, police, fire and local government CDEM activity?

It is essential that lifeline utilities are resilient to emergencies and that their emergency planning is integrated with the wider community’s CDEM planning.

The CDEM Act requires lifeline utilities to be able to continue functioning to the fullest possible extent during and after an emergency, albeit this may be at a reduced level. It is essential that lifeline utilities are resilient to emergencies and that their emergency planning is integrated with the wider community’s CDEM planning, so that both are effective at minimising loss and hastening a return to business. This can only be achieved by cooperative planning between utilities, local government and the emergency services. The focus is on business continuity planning to ensure essential services are continued or restored to priority facilities and customers. Fortunately many New Zealand utilities practice sound risk, asset and emergency management and cooperate through arrangements such as Lifelines Groups.

Utilities participating in cooperative CDEM planning are realising a range of benefits such as:

  • access to shared hazard and risk analysis data
  • access to community leaders – the decision-makers in times of crisis
  • an ability to coordinate risk reduction programmes
  • understanding how other utilities respond and using this information to integrate planning activity.

The CDEM Act 2002 does not impose new business requirements or alter responsibility for risk, asset and emergency management. The emphasis is on ensuring utilities provide continuity of operation, particularly where their service supports essential CDEM activity.

The National Emergency Management Agency has issued a 'Director's Guidelines' pursuant to section 8(2)e of the Act to clarify the expectations of lifeline utilities under the Act.

What should individual lifeline utilities do?

Individual Lifeline Utilities should:

  • Plan for and be able to implement procedures to ensure continuity of services.
    • Understand the full range of hazards that could impact on your operation.
    • Consider external risks, including dependence on utilities from other sectors and outsourcing arrangements.
    • Validate risk assessment and continuity plans through interaction with external agencies and exercising plans.
    • Forecast likely demand for your services and consider the ability for this to cater for CDEM-critical activity under a range of scenarios. Agree disconnection and restoration priorities with CDEM Groups.
    • Understand the consequences of emergencies along with responsibilities and roles within and across sectors
  • Establish planning and operational relationships with CDEM Groups.
  • Join, participate in, and benefit from regionally focused utility activities such as Lifelines Groups.
  • Participate in cross-sector regionally based activity.

Where requested by the National Emergency Management Agency or CDEM Groups, utility representatives are expected to assist in:

  • reviewing the consequences of national or regional hazards
  • clarifying responsibilities, roles and coordination of activity

What should your sector do?

Your sector should:

  • Ensure utilities plan across the sector to optimise service during emergencies.
    • Establish mutual aid mechanisms to address individual shortages in resources or personnel.
    • Protect continuity of operations and supply. For some sectors this may involve purchasing options that protect hedge contracts.
    • Develop sector based contracts that provide access to alternative supply.
    • Have an ability to reconfigure operations or networks to cater for loss of assets.
    • Ensure reconfiguring or load shedding mechanisms enable continuity of supply to CDEM critical activities.
  • Coordinate planning across your utility sector to increase capability.
    • Reach accord over common approaches to reduction, readiness and response activities thus protecting your marketplace.
    • Share and apply examples of best practice that protect resources.
    • Determine how the sector communicates/distributes information between utilities during an event, to authorities for emergency management and to the public.
    • Seek accord or consensus on sustainable development of resources.

Are your staff and their families prepared?

Your staff are one of your most vital assets in an emergency. How prepared they and their families are will directly affect your businesses ability to respond to, and recover from, a civil defence emergency.

Encourage staff members to visit the Get Ready Get Thru website to find out how to get ready.

How to be prepared at work provides information on general business preparation for emergencies.

Get involved! National Exercise Programme

Lifeline Utility involvement in exercises is a crucial part of testing emergency plans and inter-agency communications. Exercises play a vital role in the process of developing local and national community resilience.

Learn more about CDEM Exercises


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