Summary

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) held a briefing about the key role played by the 56 governor-designated State and Territory Energy Officials, other state agencies, the private sector, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in mitigating the impacts of and responding to energy supply disruptions (of electricity, natural gas, and petroleum products). Such emergencies, often caused by extreme weather, can pose a threat to public health and safety and can cause lasting economic harm. According to the Congressional Research Service, weather-related outages cost the nation between $25 and $70 billion annually.

State Energy Officials often lead the preparation of energy emergency (or energy assurance) plans, and work with the private sector and DOE in responding to energy emergencies. Equally important is mitigating the potential severity and length of energy emergencies through the promotion of more resilient energy infrastructure; electric generating fuel diversity; construction of high-performance mission critical public facilities; diversification of transportation fuels; and energy and water efficiency retrofits of public facilities. Such actions also help to minimize disruptions to mission-critical facilities, such as police and fire stations, schools, water systems, hospitals and communications infrastructure. To fulfill this critical public safety mission, State Energy Offices and their partners rely on the federal funding provided by DOE’s State Energy Program (SEP), and the expertise offered by its Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

Highlights

 

David Terry, Executive Director, National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO)

  • NASEO represents the 56 state and territory energy offices and advocates for their interests at the federal level.
  • State energy offices are generally under the direction of their governors or state legislatures and address the full range of energy issues at the state level. Energy directors represent the interests of their governors and citizens in promoting economic development and the sound use of energy resources.
  • Energy, emergency preparedness and resilience planning are interdependent and require interdisciplinary expertise and cooperation among state and local leaders, the federal government, and the private sector. State energy offices are responsible for carrying out critical functions at the state level.
  • The Department of Energy houses two important programs that deal with emergency preparedness and resilience at the state level:
    • Emergency Support Function 12 (Energy). The Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability is the primary interface with states for the ESF12. [EESI Note: ESFs are mechanisms for grouping functions most frequently used to provide federal support to states to respond to declared disasters and emergencies. ESFs provide the structure for coordinating federal response to an incident].
    • U.S. State Energy Program (SEP). DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy administers the SEP, which among many other things, funds energy emergency management planning at the state level. The Congressional appropriation for SEP has been about $50 million per year, which is then allocated to the state energy offices. NASEO has requested $70 million for FY 2018, particularly so that state energy offices can address cyber security issues.

 

Kelley Smith Burk, Director, Florida Office of Energy, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

  • Florida is unique in that almost all of the state’s transportation fuels come in through its ports. When ports are closed for a hurricane or other emergency, fuel distribution stops until the terminal is safe to re-open. The disruption of fuel supplies for citizens and critical services has a major impact on the state.
  • The ESF 12 (Fuels) program allows state energy offices to coordinate with the private sector to acquire fuels if needed during an emergency. This allows the state energy office to deliver gas or propane to stations along hurricane evacuation routes, as well as to fire and police trucks.
  • The ESF 12 (Energy) program also works with the state’s natural gas and energy utilities to maintain supply during emergency situations and restore power to critical services, such as hospitals.
  • Planning for Resiliency -- Case studies:
    • In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed 28,000 homes and caused $26.5 billion dollars in damage. In response, new building codes were adopted that emphasize resiliency, uniformity, and accountability and are updated every 3 years. In addition, a high-velocity wind standard is in place for very high wind-prone areas, such as Miami-Dade County. Ensuring compliance with the codes is important for the state's energy office as well.
    • The SunSmart E-shelter program provides community solar systems with battery backups to schools, which are a place of refuge for communities during emergencies. The program includes a curriculum to teach students about solar power. The program has installed 106 systems that have a combined 1 megawatt of capacity and produce 13 million megawatts of power.
    • The Florida Energy Assurance Plan addresses all hazards, including natural disasters and cybersecurity.
    • Currently the U.S. Forest Service is fighting 118 wildfires throughout Florida. This also creates another crisis response interface for the Florida state energy office.

 

Kylah McNabb, Energy Policy Advisor, Oklahoma Energy Office

  • The Oklahoma Energy Office operates wholly on funds provided by the U.S. Department of Energy's State Energy Program (SEP), and McNabb is the only full-time staff. SEP funds are critical to Oklahoma’s ability to plan and respond to energy emergencies. Without SEP funds, Energy Assurance planning would not happen in Oklahoma.
  • As the third most disaster-prone state, Oklahoma knows disasters are going to happen. What’s important is to be prepared.
  • The roles of the Energy Office and the Energy Assurance Plan are constantly evolving. For example, cyberattacks were not considered part of the energy assurance plan 5 years ago. Additionally, fracking-related earthquakes are a new issue the original Oklahoma Energy Assurance Plan did not account for.
  • Oklahoma is a major center for energy production. Oklahoma’s Cushing Crude Oil hub holds 66 million barrels of oil. Therefore, the state's energy office has to make sure its infrastructure is protected.
  • In May 2013, an F5 tornado with winds of 300 miles per hour and a 1-mile wide path passed through the Oklahoma city metro area and devastated the town of Moore. The tornado destroyed or damaged 1,100 homes and multiple commercial buildings (including a hospital) at a cost of more than $2 billion.
  • Efficiency means resiliency. Looking at damage levels after a tornado, homes that were more efficient were more resilient to the high winds, allowing residents to repair rather than rebuild their homes from scratch.
  • Following a storm, the Energy Office looks at short, medium, and long term response opportunities to increase energy efficiency and improve building codes:
    • Short term: recycling storm debris, working with big box stores to provide energy efficient appliances and materials for minor repairs (this often requires them to bring in staff from other states to continue store operations while affected staff focus on rebuilding their own homes).
    • Medium term: coordinating with other departments to redirect funds to assist with repairs
    • Long term: continuing education on the importance of energy efficiency, changing policy to have more stringent building codes, and making sure proper communication lines exist between agencies

 

Michael Furze, Director, Washington Energy Office

  • Furze presented an example of how state energy offices must plan to address different levels of emergencies. Every 300 to 500 years, Washington state can expect a major earthquake in the Cascadia subduction zone, the fault line running from Vancouver Island to northern California (and through Washington State). Since this last occurred in the 1700s, millions more people have moved into the area as well as large businesses like Boeing and Microsoft. Models predict over 1,000 fatalities immediately following such an earthquake, with 13,000 fatalities from the resulting tsunami, and at least 2,400 injuries.
  • Cascadia Rising was a multi-day, multi-team exercise taking place in June 2016 to test plans for how Washington State would respond to such an earthquake.
    • For the event, the Energy Office crafted recommendations for the governor (emergency declarations and regulation suspensions), coordinated situational awareness with energy providers, developed a fuel allocation plan, and coordinated requests for fuel generators from counties.
    • The earthquake is expected to cause extensive damage to fuel infrastructure, limiting recovery efforts. The Petroleum Allocation Program prioritizes first responders and details how fuel will be further distributed.
  • Emergency plans need to be sufficiently detailed that officials from another state could implement them, in case no one from the Washington Energy Office is able to report for duty because of the catastrophe.
  • The Washington governor has put together a resiliency subcabinet to work with utilities to identify and protect vulnerable infrastructure.
  • The Washington Governor and legislature have set up a Clean Energy Fund that addresses energy resilience, with measures like energy storage and microgrids.

 

This briefing was the second in a series in partnership with the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) on "Building Resilient and Secure Infrastructure." Other briefings will examine city initiatives, building materials and methods, the role of national labs and federal R&D spending, coastal resilience, and national security.