Social dimension

Disaster and contingency planning

Why is this important?

Alpiq is responsible for operating large facilities throughout Europe that are part of critical infrastructure, such as hydro, nuclear and gas-fired combined-cycle power plants. Professional emergency and disaster management as part of business continuity management is extremely important for Alpiq.

The overarching goal of critical infrastructure protection is to guarantee as far as possible the continuous functioning of critical infrastructure or minimum operation and a return to a normal state following an incident.

What are we doing?

Business Continuity Management (BCM) is fundamentally a management task. Every person responsible for a process defines the measures that they need to prepare to maintain their process, even under difficult conditions.

For particularly business-critical processes, the people responsible for a process must prepare a business continuity plan and maintain an emergency organisation for incident management. The following services, which are particularly critical for operations and are monitored at group level, have been identified:

- Energy trading and supporting processes

- Central power plant control

- Making urgent payments

- Publication of critical information (e.g. to meet regulatory requirements)

The other business continuity plans are the responsibility of the process owner and are not monitored at group level.

Alpiq’s crisis organisation is deployed in the event of an imminent threat to the entire company. It supports management in this situation. This involves preparing decision-making tools for the CEO.

Depending on the scenario, the CEO may appoint a crisis director. Normally, this person is a member of the Executive Board. The chief of staff of the crisis organisation reports directly to the crisis director.

How do we track the effectiveness of our approach?

Emergency organisations and the crisis response team hold a training session to practise their deployment capability at least once a year. The team composition, assembly and activities are reviewed and tested based on real-life drills. The last crisis management training took place in October 2022. The emergency organisations conduct their own drills and exercises.

The key members of Alpiq’s crisis organisation underwent a training together with the Swiss army on decision making. Additionally, the CEO and the head of the CEO Office teach mentor civil crisis management teams in crisis exercises together with the Swiss Army and the IMD Lausanne.

The respective nuclear power plant companies are directly responsible for safeguarding the nuclear power plants in which Alpiq holds shares. The concept of safeguarding the Swiss nuclear power plants is supervised by ENSI, which checks it periodically for effectiveness.

Below, please find an overview of our activities to manage the continuity and ensure the availability of each specific technology:

Gas-fired combined-cycle power plants

- Most gas-fired combined-cycle power plants are part of the national critical infrastructure. Ensuring the provision of power from these plants and a stable supply to the national grids is therefore absolutely essential. 

- Alpiq uses systems and mechanisms that guarantee secure operation. The main goal is to minimize unscheduled power plant downtimes. 

- Alpiq has taken out insurance policies for the facilities, which cover damages and potential impacts of negative external factors. They protect Alpiq from the economic consequences of unforeseeable future incidents. 

- In line with the national and local regulations, every power plant has a contingency plan. These plans are adapted to the specific characteristics of every facility and shared with the local authorities and fire brigades. 

- Physical access to the gas-fired combined-cycle power plants operated by Alpiq is protected and monitored. Emergency drills are regularly organized to focus on fire rescue, recovery of people or work-related incidents.

Hydropower plants 

- Contingency plans exist for every partner power plant company. They particularly define the nature and severity of an incident for which a crisis team is deployed, its organisation, its interactions as well as the member specifications. In line with standards ISO 55001 (asset management), ISO 9001 (quality management systems) and ISO 14001 (environmental management, certified since 2022), crisis drills are held together with external experts in a selected facility each year. These drills enable the operators to gain valuable experience and continuously improve the contingency plans.

Wind power plants 

- The wind farms operated by Alpiq are mostly located in remote, inaccessible places. The emergency plans therefore take into account longer reaction times by the professional rescue organisations. The goal is coordination between the authorities and alignment of the processes of the service providers working at Alpiq’s wind farms. 

- In order to make access easier, road signs have been installed in the wind farms to guide emergency vehicles and save time. 

- Emergency drills are performed on a regular basis to ensure that each person knows how to react and detect any gaps in the rescue chain. If necessary, contractors and public emergency services are included in these drills. 

- In addition to the regular fire safety drill conducted with local fire response services, Alpiq Wind Services in Bulgaria also performed an advanced first aid training session in 2022. This training was carried out with the support of Bulgaria’s Mountain Rescue Service.

Nuclear power plants 

- Each nuclear power plant company in which Alpiq holds shares is directly responsible for safeguarding the nuclear power plant. The effectiveness of their safeguarding concepts are supervised and periodically checked by ENSI. 

- Large-scale emergency drills in nuclear power plants, i.e. comprehensive emergency drills that include cantonal services and federal authorities, generally take place every two years at one of three nuclear power plant sites. 

- The last drill took place in 2022 (postponed by one year due to the Covid-19 pandemic) at Leibstadt nuclear power plant.

Milestones in 2022

After the years 2020 and 2021 were dominated by the Covid crisis, the focus for Alpiq’s crisis organisation in 2022 was on the global energy crisis and the associated disruption of the market. In this case, however, crisis management was not activated at Alpiq. A special task force was set up that included elements of the crisis organisation.

“It’s our task to enhance our water resource management to ensure the security of supply, provide irrigation, and protect against floods. To achieve this, we will all have to work together closely.”

Amédée Murisier, Head Hydropower Generation, Alpiq Lausanne

Frameworks/guidelines 

- ISO 55001 

- ISO 9001 

- ISO 14001 

- Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection

GRIs 

- GRI 3-3: Management of material topics

Sustainable Development Goals 

- SDG 9