The Electrical Reliability Plan

A tool to bridge business strategy with electrical investment

Erik Jonson, Frank E. Bresnan Jr., Patrick Pollock and Chris Walker

Originally Published on IEEE Industry Applications Magazine - 4/18/2019

MAINTAINING RELIABILITY FOR ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS THAT support processing facilities is a constant challenge due to aging equipment and other factors. Upgrades and replacements require significant engineering, extensive capital, scheduling, and shutdowns. Investment in electrical infrastructure is often marginalized and only addressed upon an unplanned failure or necessary expansion.

Without an overall comprehensive strategy, it is difficult to ensure that these expenditures meet the facility’s business objectives and contribute to long-term value. An electrical reliability plan (ERP) is a tool that helps align business strategy with capital investment.

An ERP evaluates the facility’s electrical infrastructure and determines a prioritized strategy for replacement, modification, or upgrade based on specific criteria of risk to business, safety, capacity, environment, and other factors. The criteria are evaluated, weighted, and risk ranked within the facility’s risk management structure. Baselines are established against which an organization can measure risk reduction and continuous improvement.

This article describes components of an ERP and discusses the criteria and evaluation procedures that were used to develop comprehensive ERPs for two large petroleum refineries. The article also discusses how support was achieved from the key facility stakeholders and how the ERPs have benefited the facilities.

Why an ERP?
No organization ever plans to fail; they just frequently fail to plan. Without a complete evaluation of a facility’s electrical system, it is often difficult to ensure that the resources spent today will be in alignment with what is allocated and spent tomorrow. Through the ERP process, plant personnel and stakeholders help guarantee that electrical capital expenditures offer long-term benefits and align with the organization’s overall goals and strategies.

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