Zambia utility executives tour Alabama Power’s Lay Dam

Zambia utility executives tour Alabama Power’s Lay Dam
Utility executives from Zambia toured Alabama Power's Lay Dam to learn best practices when it comes to hydroelectricity risk management. (Ike Pigott / Alabama NewsCenter)

In the utility business, risk is part of the job – and surprise is a four-letter word. Successful utilities achieve safety and reliability because they identify and manage risk well.

With that in mind, utility executives from the African nation of Zambia toured Alabama Power’s Lay Dam to import best practices for their own hydroelectric facilities.

“We want to improve our benchmarking process to understand how to do things better,” said Manyoni Banda, manager of insurance for ZESCO (Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation), who led the group of eight executives to the May 16 meetings and tour.

Almost all ZESCO’s power generation comes from hydro facilities, but there is room for growth. Less than half of Zambia’s 17 million citizens have access to electricity.

The fact-finding mission was actually “brokered” by Southern Company’s insurance broker, London-based Price Forbes. ZESCO became a Price Forbes client four years ago, and the Alabama visit was added to an existing trip to discuss insurance and risk training.

Risk Management engineer Larry Shackelford said the pairing of the utilities made sense for other reasons. “Lay Dam was a great location for them to visit,” Shackelford said. “Its age of 104 years old, its operational service, and the fact it was the primary foundation of Alabama Power’s generation portfolio.”

During the visit, the delegation heard about risk mitigation across the entire operation, covering things such as weather forecasting, redundant systems, environmental controls, water flow strategies and vendor selection and management.

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