Satellite image of a hurricane. Hurricanes put the grid in jeopardy, but energy companies work to be prepared in every circumstance. Credit: iStock/mikolajn
With hurricane season officially ending November 30, the books are officially closed on one of the shortest but most devastating hurricane seasons in recent memory.
This year was marked by a small number of powerful storms including Hurricane Ian – the second costliest disaster in U.S. history and the fifth strongest to make landfall in the U.S. – according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The season also included other major storms like Hurricane Fiona, which had serious impacts across Puerto Rico.
Each hurricane season, energy companies, including EPSA’s members, work tirelessly internally and externally to ensure they are prepared for major storms and are positioned to restore services as on as quickly and safely as possible. This preparation not only involves the entire power sector, but also federal, state, and local governments, emergency first responders, and organizations throughout the electricity supply chain to help ensure the industry is prepared to meet extreme weather challenges and other threats to grid reliability.
A key connection for the electric sector is the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC), which plays a crucial role as a liaison between the federal government and electric power industry to ensure that the electric power industry is prepared for major disasters and threats to critical infrastructure. EPSA has played an essential role on the ESCC’s steering committee for years, representing a unique and vital segment of the industry.
The ESCC brings together senior administration officials from the White House, cabinet agencies, federal law enforcement, and national security organizations to meet with executives from across the power sector—including the major competitive generators represented on the ESCC’s Steering Committee by EPSA. The organization is the primary go-between for industry and government when it comes to responding to national-level disasters and threats to critical electric infrastructure, as highlighted by the recent incident in North Carolina.
Power generators prepare tirelessly for hurricane season, as a proactive approach can help mitigate some of the impacts of even the most severe weather events. When a large storm is forecasted, the electric power industry comes together with state and local governments to track developments and shift personnel and equipment to the area in advance in order to prepare to restore power as soon as possible after the storm passes.
In advance of Hurricane Ian in September, utilities coordinated up to 44,000 electrical workers from all over the country ready to assist in response and rebuilding. That effort paid off, and despite Ian’s 150 mph winds and 18-foot storm surge, more than two thirds of customers had power back on within 24 hours.
After storms hit, power generators work quickly to bring facilities back online, utilities repair power lines, and power is restored for consumers. Electric power generators like EPSA’s member companies focus on ensuring that utilities and power systems have a reliable supply of electricity to help restore crucial power needed for consumers and businesses.
No power grid can be disaster proof. But careful coordination between government and industry representatives like EPSA through organizations like the ESCC can help companies be better prepared to anticipate and respond even to the largest disasters.