With June 1 marking the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting another unusually active season, with as many as 21 named storms and 10 hurricanes. If the NOAA prediction becomes reality, this will be the seventh straight year of above-average activity, and it is all but guaranteed to bring destruction to communities in the path of these storms.
The power sector is no stranger to the impacts of hurricanes, enduring widespread outages and damage to infrastructure, which results in billions in losses and months of restoration work. Reducing the impacts of hurricanes through storm response and management planning can help prepare communities for responding to outages.
Competitive power suppliers are an essential component of the U.S. critical infrastructure, working around the clock to provide the electricity our modern economy needs . Power suppliers leverage years of experience to build and maintain a resilient electricity grid that can deliver reliable power even when a major storm strikes. EPSA’s member companies perform extensive planning to enable a quick response to any infrastructure damage or power outages that may occur.
Keeping power flowing is an all-hands-on-deck effort. It requires coordination between power suppliers and federal, state and local governments, along with first responders, to mitigate risks ahead of storms and address any potential service disruptions.
Before storm season, power suppliers perform planned shutdowns for maintenance and tests to ensure power plants are operating properly.
EPSA is also directly involved in these preparation efforts, serving on the steering committee of the Electric Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC), the principal liaison between the federal government and the electric power industry on efforts to prepare for, and respond to, national-level disasters or threats to critical infrastructure.
Planning for hurricane season should ideally begin the day after the previous season ends. Power suppliers and regulators can work to assess how the system performed, address any vulnerabilities, and update their procedures to incorporate new lessons learned, enhancing resilience against future storms.
As hurricane season begins, storm activity is closely monitored so power suppliers can assess and implement preparation procedures. Being proactive is key for generators to mitigate the impacts of severe storms. Planning and response activities include:
- Identifying and notifying emergency personnel
- Testing emergency communications systems
- Preparing operations sites by removing or securing any debris, chemicals, or other items that could become airborne
- Safely shutting down the facility and locking buildings as needed
- Evacuating non-essential personnel or the entire site when necessary
- As applicable, closing manual natural gas supply valves
When a storm is predicted for an area, power suppliers mobilize their response teams in advance to prepare to get the system back online in the event of a disruption. While retail utilities repair downed power lines, power suppliers work to maintain the power supply and get people back to normal quickly. Power suppliers typically follow these steps:
- Power facilities are assessed for damage.
- Staff makes repairs as needed.
- Generators follow reopening procedures to reestablish power supply.
How can customers prepare?
Customers can also take several steps to prepare for hurricane season. Maintaining emergency supplies (food, water and medicine), having copies of essential documents, charging your phone and creating an emergency plan for your family are key to successful preparation. Staying informed on local guidance, such as evacuation orders and shelter locations near you, will also help maintain the safety and well-being of your family.
More detailed readiness plans are available through Ready.gov and the Red Cross.
EPSA member companies have also provided more information and preparation resources for customers.
- Reliant Storm Center | Reliant
- Reliant Storm Preparation Tips | Reliant
- Making reliable summer electricity a reality during peak demand | NRG Insights
- Make hurricane season resiliency season | NRG Insights
- Hurricane Season is Here—Know How to Be Prepared | NRG Insights
- Hurricane Preparedness Checklist and Guidelines | TXU Energy
- Storm Assistance & Recovery Resources | TXU Energy
- bp America Storm Center | bp America
- Shell U.S. Storm Center | Shell