Core Sector: Critical Infrastructure and Cybersecurity

Energy Emergency Preparedness

Recent emergency events have heightened the nation’s collective awareness of the need for access to energy and the importance of ensuring the continued delivery of essential energy services. The intensified focus on protecting the reliability of our vulnerable energy systems and creating a more resilient infrastructure will enable the nation to better respond to future large-scale and catastrophic events.

State utility regulators play a critical role in ensuring regulated utilities are adequately prepared to respond to emergency events. State public utility commissions may require their utilities to file disaster preparedness plans with the commission and crucially approve a variety of emergency preparedness, response, and recovery investments. Additionally, state public utility commissions may be designated lead response agencies in the federal Emergency Support Function 12 – Energy (ESF-12) framework. NARUC CPI provides state utility regulators with strategies, tools, and expertise to engage other state agencies and utilities in discussions about energy emergency preparedness, response, and recovery planning, policies, and practices.

NARUC CPI coordinates Energy Emergency Preparedness activities in conjunction with NARUC’s Critical Infrastructure Committee, the Committees on ElectricityGas and Water and the Staff Subcommittee on Electricity and Resilience.

NARUC staff experts who support these activities include Lynn Costantini.

  • NARUC’s Emergency Preparedness, Recovery, and Resiliency Task Force, 2020 – 2022
    The NARUC Emergency Preparedness, Recovery and Resiliency Task Force (EPRR Task Force) led efforts in responding to and educating members about existing and emerging issues and opportunities associated with emergency preparedness, recovery, and resiliency, including best practices, funding opportunities, resources, and collaborative efforts. Considerations for the task force included available federal funding to support resiliency investments; the meaning of resiliency; critical connections between regulatory policy and implementation; the relationship between preparedness, response, and resilience; and the future of resiliency as it relates to a diverse and changing energy future.

    The task force also included a special Subcommittee comprised of and chaired by members of the EPRR Task Force to study the COVID-19 pandemic response. The Subcommittee was specifically focused on gathering, examining, and analyzing regulatory and industry actions and lessons learned from the COVID-19 response.

  • Black Sky Subcommittee, 2020 - 2022
    The Black Sky Subcommittee was a Subcommittee within the EPRR Task Force responsible for developing resources that support NARUC member preparedness in the event of a catastrophic, multi-regional event affecting multiple critical infrastructure sectors, otherwise known as a “Black Sky event.” Exceptional levels of collaboration across federal, state, and local governments, relief agencies, and private sector entities are necessary to plan for and build resilience to these hazards. The work of the Black Sky Subcommittee supported the EPRR Task Force’s goal of improving state energy emergency response capabilities.
  • Federal Funding Opportunities Guidebook, October 2021
    The EPRR Task Force’s Federal Funding Opportunities & Construction Standards Subcommittee produced a federal funding guidebook focused on disaster response and hazard mitigation that details eight priority federal funding opportunities, key takeaways for state utility regulators concerning those funding opportunities, and program eligibility requirements. The Guidebook serves as a reference guide for NARUC members who can play an important role in encouraging fellow states agencies and regulated utilities within their jurisdiction to take advantage of available federal funding for disaster response and hazard mitigation.
  • Lessons Learned from the Ongoing Response to the COVID-19 Crisis, October 2021
    The final report of the Subcommittee on COVID-19 details key lessons learned from and for state commissions from the ongoing response to the COVID-19 crisis. The scope of the analysis includes workforce issues, changing business practices, low- to moderate-income customer impact, regulatory responses, utility financial approaches to pandemic response, and other key challenges.
  • Black Sky Playbook Use Cases, June 2021
    The Black Sky Playbook Use Cases document identified scenario-based case studies that build on shortcomings identified in the Black Sky Needs Assessment. This document is intended to amplify themes, challenges, and needs identified as challenge areas for effective Black Sky event response.
  • Black Sky Needs Assessment, April 2021
    This Black Sky Needs Assessment provides a summary of the issue areas where existing literature and guidelines on Black Sky event planning and response do not meet the needs of the regulatory community. This set of gaps highlights the challenges preventing Public Utility Commissions from maximizing engagement in Black Sky event mitigation, planning, and response. In constructing a framework for identifying critical knowledge gaps in these areas, the Needs Assessment also serves as the basis for a forthcoming project to address regulatory, local, and state needs during catastrophes of unprecedented severity: the Black Sky Playbook.
  • Black Sky Literature Review, March 2021
    The Black Sky literature review identifies a relevant body of disaster plans and practices to inform disaster preparedness content. The literature review includes existing public-and private-sector disaster response plans available in the public domain or voluntarily offered for review. The document summarizes key themes and best practices to inform state energy stakeholders’ Black Sky planning and response requirements. This summary also includes best practices for establishing and enhancing collaborative relationships between federal, state, and private sector entities to facilitate disaster response.
  • Webinar: Black Start Considerations in a Highly Renewable Supply Future, February 28, 2022
    The increasing frequency of extreme weather events, cybersecurity intrusions, and physical security dangers continue to threaten extended disruptions to utility services. There exists a distinct possibility that any of these events could escalate into a full-scale Black Sky event, a catastrophic multi-regional event disrupting utility services over an extended time. Simultaneously, the energy portfolio of the future will be one that is increasingly generated via renewable assets. State governments, utilities, and private sector suppliers will need to accommodate a highly renewable supply future into their emergency management planning. This is particularly true for Black Sky hazard planning and mitigation. This panel explored how the ‘black start’ restoration model will change when supply is increasingly generated via renewable assets and by distributed energy resources. Panelists explored how renewables might create a more flexible ‘black start’ restoration and how a highly renewable supply future impacts Black Sky planning and mitigation.

    Moderator: Chair Gladys Brown-Dutrieuille, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission

    Mike Bryson, Senior Vice President - Operations, PJM

    Gab-Su Seo, Senior Electrical Engineer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

    Dr. Paul Stockton, Chair of DOE’s Advisory Subcommittee on Grid Resilience for National Security, and Senior Fellow, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

    View recording


NARUC is grateful to the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) for funding projects addressing energy emergency preparedness, Black Sky event response, and related activities to enhance disaster preparedness at public utility commissions.