AUDIT: BWL’s failed response during December ice storm

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Insufficient stress testing is just one of several failures found in an internal audit of the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s Outage Management System.

Remember the December 2013 ice storm that left more than 40,000 people without power?

Tuesday night, at the BWL’s Finance Committee Meeting, commissioners found out why plans weren’t already in place before the ice storm happened.

In March, the Finance Committee of the BWL Board of Commissioners asked it’s internal auditor to take a look at the utility company’s Outage Management System.

The main focus of the audit was to follow up on recommendations made by the Community Review Team following the catastrophic events of the December ice storm and Tuesday, BWL Commissioners discussed the report’s findings.

“The process that was used to procure the outage system it seemed to be a failure in actually getting what we were paying for,” BWL Board of Commissioners Chair, David Price said. “Secondly, the failure to stress test it to see if it would work under the situations that we faced in during the ice storm.”

Those are some of the findings that Chair Price says was concerning to him as part of the audit.

The objective of the audit was to determine three things, whether further action was required regarding practices used in pre-operational vendor selection and testing, if the system’s capacity for stress testing was sufficient enough, and if any further action was required regarding system maintenance and redundant systems backups, issues BWL’s Internal Auditor, Phil Perkins looked into.

“What we found was that there were improvements needed in the procurement process because the procedures that we have didn’t adequately specify what’s required regarding a technical review, versus what is optional,” Perkins said. “The testing was not adequate either before the system went operational and also afterward.”

Right now, the BWL board is working to fix those findings, as recommended, to ensure the failed response to 2013 December ice storm, doesn’t happen again.

“We have new systems in place, we’re working to shore up the system that was in place, and we’ll be looking at new systems down the road.”

To take a look at the full audit report, click here.

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