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Practice Makes Better

January 5, 2023

Weeks before winter storms moved into our area, I&M employees gathered in downtown Fort Wayne to practice and prepare for the severe weather conditions we might face in the months ahead.

On December 6, the 18th Floor of the Indiana Michigan Power building was filled with employees from throughout I&M.   They were there to participate in a tabletop exercise, designed to prepare employees to prepare for winter weather and resulting outages. 

Steve Baker, president and COO, addressing the employees gathered for the tabletop exercise

“Anything you can do to prepare in advance of a major outage event is a major help,” Steve Baker, president and chief operating officer for I&M, said to the teams gathered at the exercise. “When you have a major event, that leaves a lasting impression on your customers, regulators, media and everyone else.”

The tabletop was organized into four phases.  It spanned from 4 days out from a major ice storm hitting to 3 days into the process of restoring power.  During the various storm phases, AEP meteorology manager Meghan Klee walked the group through the weather forecasts she had developed for the session. 

As participants worked through each phase, they were given the opportunity to plan, ask questions, and practice how they would approach a real event.

Every aspect of storm restoration from the actual restoration work to the logistics needed to support such an operation were considered. Some teams worked on the actual damage, while others planned on how to house and feed the workforce needed for such a massive response. Even aspects of communication with local emergency management and the public were planned out.

This helped teams identify gaps in their processes or needed resources.  For others, it provided the chance to ask questions of those involved in other aspects of storm restoration from what they themselves do. 

“We learn something new from every storm event. Our hope for the tabletop was that we would be able to learn in advance of an actual storm. We spent a lot of time as a group paying particular attention to the activities that will benefit from a few days' advanced notice, including Assessment, ETR Determination, notifications to customers and stakeholders, and Resource Assigning and Tracking,” said Scott Bennett, who oversees the Incident Command Structure for I&M.

Planning ahead and running tabletop exercises like this one help I&M continue our efforts to safely and quickly restore outages when they occur. Going forward, leadership is looking to hold an additional exercise in the spring to prepare for summer outages.



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