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What have we learned?

Alliander always aims to perform its duties and activities to the best of its ability. But certain incidents, developments and events can still have unforeseen consequences. We want to learn from these experiences in order to further enhance the quality of our organisation. In this section, we present some key moments and events in 2016.

Fatal accident in Elst

What happened?

In February, we were shocked by the news that one of our colleagues of Liandon died following an accident while performing voltage transformer measurements at the substation in Elst. This made a deep impression throughout the company. Liandon commissioned an independent investigation into the immediate and underlying causes of the accident.

What have we learned?

Based on the findings, we took measures to make our measurement work even safer. Liandon tightened up the instructions for safe measurements and the lessons learned were shared in meetings at sector level. In addition, safety risks and measures are now specifically mentioned during the pre-job meetings at the start of every day. It is good to note that effective steps to improve safety were made in the past years, but every incident is one too many.

Data theft

What happened?

In September 2016, the grid operators were confronted with an alleged theft of client data from two million homes in the central registers which are administered by Energy Data Services Netherlands (EDSN). It is about the energy contract data such as annual, type of connection and the termination date of the contracts. These data are kept in a central register for the entire sector. The presumed theft took place through an energy supplier. According to this energy supplier, the theft was perpetrated by one employee who is no longer with the company. The data can possibly be used to send unsolicited product offers (energy contracts) by post.

What have we learned?

This was the first time that energy contract data of customers were stolen on such a large scale. The theft of the data came to light during the monitoring of the national registers by the network operators. Steps have now been taken to minimise the risk of wrongful use of the data and to exclude the possibility of system abuse in the future. To this end, regulators (the Dutch Data Protection Authority and the Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets), industry organisations (the Association of Energy Network Operators in the Netherlands and Energie-Nederland) and other relevant parties are working closely together. Amongst other things, requests for data are now monitored to identify irregularities more quickly and to take measures against the party who is at fault.

Major power outage in Alphen aan den Rijn

What happened?

On Sunday, 7 February 2016, a major energy outage occurred in the west of Alphen aan den Rijn, leaving much of the region without power. The incident affected 64,000 households in various places, including Alphen, Benthuizen and Moerkapelle. Rail services in the region were also brought to a standstill. The outage arose in a switching station, where a safety mechanism was wrongly triggered causing the regional power supply to be cut.

The outage took place following the replacement of safety components during maintenance work in part of the station (the medium-voltage section). The impact of these replacements had been carefully assessed in preparation for the project. When the work was completed, the safety mechanisms were also tested for proper operation. As the test results were positive, the station was started up again. However, when a subsequent short-circuit occurred in the network, a back-up safety mechanism in another part of the station (the high-voltage section) was wrongly activated, leading to a large-scale outage.

What have we learned?

During preparations for similar maintenance work in the future, we must take more account of the interdependencies between the various safety mechanisms and back-up safety mechanisms at both medium-voltage and high-voltage level. In future, we will also conduct additional tests before restarting the installations in order to prevent that safety mechanisms wrongly shut down the system.

Gas network obsolete after three years

What happened?

Three years ago, Liander constructed a new gas network in a neighbourhood in Arnhem. A few years later, different energy choices were made in that neighbourhood. During extensive renovations, the housing association fitted out the homes with insulation, solar panels and heat pumps. As a result, the gas network was no longer necessary.

What have we learned?

Energy infrastructure has an average useful life of 40 years. In this specific case, the gas network operated for a mere three years. We have learned that we must work more intensively with third parties to better anticipate expected developments at local and regional level. When large-scale renovation projects are planned, we must work with the local authorities to make the most responsible choices at the lowest social costs.

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