Feb. 4 2014 12:00 AM

Independent panel reviewing BWL storm response requests documents on preparedness, communications and more

Tuesday, Feb. 4 — An independent panel has formally requested documents from the Lansing Board of Water and Light on its emergency preparedness, media and public communications, resource levels and capabilities and “recovery and mitigation” as part of its investigation of the December ice storm.

“While this request is only the first request, we believe that, with the receipt of these documents an answers, we can begin to analyze the events associated with the December 2013 ice storm and to create substantive best practice recommendations that will best serve the greater Lansing community,” retired Brig. Gen. Michael C.H. McDaniel said in a statement.

Mayor Virg Bernero appointed McDaniel as chairman of the nine-member committee.

The extensive five-page request asks for the utility’s emergency action plan and emergency procedures manual; communication logs on downed wires; employee organizational charts and mutual aid agreement details, to name a few (the full request is below).

In a Jan. 30 letter to BWL General Manager J. Peter Lark, McDaniel requests the documents and any other information be turned over no later than Feb. 13 so it can meet its March 31 deadline to issue a set of recommendations.

“Should any of the information requested be deemed to be confidential for any reason, please advise soonest, rather than awaiting February 13th,” the letter says. It also asks for a BWL employee be designated a liaison with the review team due to the “significant amount of information” being requested.

“It is expected that we will require further information from BWL, after receipt and review of this first request, through interviews with key staff and leadership, and through a subsequent request for documents,” McDaniel wrote.

Here’s the full request:

Preparedness, Plans and Reports

1. The Community Review Team has copies of the following plans:

Please provide of all other operations plans, emergency operations plans, manuals, memoranda or other documents on emergency procedures, crisis communications plans, other than the above two documents, that were in effect at the time of the December 21 2013 ice storm. Please attach copies of all such plans, manuals or other such documents which have been drafted or revised since the December 2013 ice storm.

2. Please provide a detailed description on the technology and plans used by the BWL to ascertain the extent of an outage or interruption in service.

a. What was the timeline for survey crews to assess the geographic area comprising the BWL customer base? Please provide a copy of the timeline.

b. Please provide the outage estimates for each day from December 22, 2013 through January 3, 2014, specifying the daily customer outage levels and the cumulative number of customers restored.

c. What is the method for allocating crews to outage areas once the extent of the outage has been determined?

d. What system of prioritizing outage areas for restoration is used by BWL? Please provide a copy, IF contained in any manual or source other than the Emergency Procedures Manual, referenced above (see Item 1).

e. Please provide maps of outage locations, by day, if available.

f. Please quantify how BWL learned of outages (either in raw counts or percentages) between different methods like computerized monitoring, phone calls, utility patrols, city patrols, etc.

3. How did the BWL receive notification of live downed wires?

a. Please provide copies of all logs of communications on downed wires, live or unknown, including calls from 911 Operations Desks, the public, and any other source.

b. What method was used by BWL to track response to reports of live, downed wires?

4. Is BWL required to submit an Electric Disturbance Events (OE-417) Report to the U.S. Department of Energy? If BWL has done so, please attach a copy.

5. Please provide the number of downed wires each day and the number restored each day, by day, for the period from December 22, 2013 through January 3, 2014. We understand that new downed wires would cause this number to change somewhat each day, so please include the day that BWL learned of each downed wire.

6. The Community Review Team has access to:



To assure that we have complete information, please provide an organizational chart for all supervisory personnel at BWL. Please provide an organizational chart for all supervisory personnel tasked with response, recovery and restoration of power from the outages of December 21, 2013 through January 3, 2014. If there is not a distinct organizational chart for supervisory personnel during emergency operations, then please provide a list of all supervisory personnel tasked with emergency operations, including name, title and position description.

a. Please advise the days and hours of operation of the BWL Emergency Operations Center.

b. Please provide the names, titles and position descriptions of all persons staffing the BWL Emergency Operations Center between December 21, 2013 and January 3, 2014.

c. The emergency procedures manual refers to a daily critique meeting at 6 pm each day. Please provide copies of the minutes or notes from each of those meetings.

Media and public communication

7. Please provide copes of the BWL reports to the media each day on the outage levels and the time estimates by which BWL expected to have power restored.

Also, describe the extent to which social media and the BWL website were used to notify or advise customers, including frequency of updates, and the personnel responsible for updating the website, or social media. Please include:

a. the number and identity of media contacts which occurred,

b. the date and time of each media contact,

c. and the names, titles and position descriptions of each individuals that served as spokespersons for BWL.

8. Does the BWL have a defined outage reporting center or system?

a. How many customer calls were received by the BWL each day between December 21, 2013 and January 3, 2014?

b. Are customer calls handled by an automated outage reporting system, or are they handled by personnel?

c. If handled by personnel, please advise of the number of personnel fully or partially tasked to received calls from customers for each day from December 21, 2013 through January 3, 2014?

d. If available, how many customer walk-ins to BWL offices took place during those dates?

e. How was the substance of those calls, ie, downed live wires, outage areas, etc., transmitted to emergency operations?

9. How were decisions on outage restoration priorities transmitted to the public? What methods were used to advise the public on the outage levels and projected restoration? Please describe all communication methods used to advise the public, besides the media, answered in Question #7 above.

Resource Levels and Capabilities

10. Please provide the number of BWL and other Crews (split out) and the number of BWL and other personnel the BWL had working on restoration in the field each day until restoration was completed. That is, please provide the names and position description for each BWL employee and each utility worker gained by contract or mutual assistance working on power restoration or other outage issues from December 21 through January 3,


a. For each employee, provide their daily work logs if available.

b. If no work logs are available, please detail the number of hours worked, the outage areas addressed by city or township and street number and the assignments completed.

11. What mutual aid agreements did BWL have in place as of 21 December 2013?

a. What mutual aid agreements are in place as of today’s date?

b. Please list the utilities and companies with which agreements have been entered for both prior to and after 21 December 2013 and attach copies of the mutual aid agreements.

c. For all mutual aid agreements in effect either now or as of December 21, 2013, please provide a copy of the agreement.

d. If any mutual aid agreements were in effect in December 2013 that are not now in effect, please list those as well.

e. Please provide a copy of any document that expressly identifies when requests for mutual aid are to be sent out (e.g., if at any point it appears that service won't be restored within 48 hours)?

12. From what utilities or other companies were the outside personnel requested?

a. From what utilities or companies were the outside personnel received?

b. Who (name, title and position description) made the decision to call for outside personnel?

c. When (all instances) were the personnel requested?

d. What was the response time, for each request?

13. What were the methods of communication between BWL and the city and state governments? Please provide copies of all communications between BWL staffer leadership and the city of Lansing, other customer cities and the state of Michigan that addressed any of the following:

a. the number of customers without power,

b. steps being taken to address the outage,

c. estimates of power restoration,

d. any concerns for or discussions of customer health and safety, and

e. please provide a detailed list of all measures taken to ascertain the location of all senior citizens and residents with medical needs or devices requiring electrical power.

Recovery and Mitigation

14. Has BWL compared their expected restoration and response capabilities with other, previous outages?

a. Has BWL compared their expected restoration and response capabilities with other publicly owned utilities experiencing similar ice storms or other naturally-caused outages?

b. Has BWL compared their expected restoration and response capabilities with other Michigan utilities experiencing similar ice storms or other naturally-caused outages?

c. For any of the above which were answered in the affirmative, please attach copies of the reports, studies, or papers which contain the comparisons.

15. Please provide a copy of the report of the results of the BWL internal review and recommendations. Please describe all additional steps, besides any described in the report of the internal review, that BWL has taken to internally evaluate their operations in planning, response and recovery from the outages of December 22, 2013 through January 3, 2014.

16. Please describe all measures in mitigation which BWL has determined are necessary to lessen the likelihood, magnitude, or consequences of another outage of similar length and severity as occurred from December 21, 2013 through January 3, 2014.

17. For each of the last three years, please provide all metrics available (e.g., hours spent, number of trees trimmed) for the amount of preventive maintenance work done on lines.

a. Using the same metrics, what does BWL forecast for preventive maintenance work in 2014 and 2015?

b. What other projects are planned or under consideration in 2014 and 2015 to increase reliability?

c. What was the cost of these preventative and tree trimming measures over the last 3 years?

18. Is there any repair or restoration from the storm still left to be done, for example, temporary repairs with a permanent repair to be done later?