Securing America's Vital Organs and Arteries
Source: BusinessWeek online
Date: May 13, 2003
Protecting thousands of miles of pipelines and wires and hundreds of industrial soft spots isn't easy, but much progress
is being made.
On any given Sunday, Jeff Triplette dons a "zebra suit" to work as a referee in the National Football League. But keeping 350-pound linemen under control is easy compared with his day job: Triplette also serves as vice-president for risk management at Duke Energy Corp. (DUK ). The Charlotte (N.C.) energy giant owns and operates dozens of power plants in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Asia -- including three nuclear plants in the Carolinas. In the U.S., Duke's natural-gas operations include more than 18,200 miles of pipelines and 250 billion cubic feet of storage capacity. Triplette's task is to ensure that such juicy targets -- as well as Duke Energy's 25,000 employees -- stay safe and sound.
He had to think about all these things before September 11, 2001. But he has to think about them a lot harder since, as fears have grown that terrorists might one day target the nation's energy and transportation infrastructure. Duke already is spending a modest (considering $18 billion in annual revenue) $5 million to $6 million per year on such things as improved securithy for its computer systems, more guards at certain facilities, and on a new crisis control center for the entire company.
Triplette has also installed risk-assessment software that helps Duke discover what areas require extra attention and upgrading. "We've put systems in place to make sure we can protect the facilities and the public," Triplette says. "I'm not going to say that it's fail-safe. But we have taken every measure that's reasonably possible to deal with these situations."
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