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WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today outlined a number of steps that the Department is taking to strengthen its hurricane response system in the United States. Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, DOE has made operational and administrative improvements, including coordination between federal, state and local leaders, deployment of trained staff, and improvements to modeling tools.
"Bringing power back online is a critical step in recovering and rebuilding from a disaster and the Department of Energy stands ready to help coordinate fuel delivery to affected areas and remove barriers in energy recovery efforts," Alex de Alvarez, DOE Deputy Director of the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability for Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration said.
To further prepare, DOE's hurricane response system has:
- Conducted regional exercises to help further prepare state and local government staff in the case of emergencies;
- Hired seven new staff specifically to support the energy emergency function under the National Response Plan;
- Trained over 50 technical and emergency response staff that will be available to deploy to an affected region and embed in other federal responding agencies such as Department of Homeland Security (DHS); and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). DOE has also assigned coordinators to all FEMA regions.
- Instituted a "helpline" for the 2007 hurricane season to allow state/local governments and industry to communicate with DOE during emergencies;
- Enhanced DOE's modeling, analytical, and visualization capabilities by working with national laboratories, and industry;
- Increased coordination with federal agencies such as DHS/FEMA, MMS, DOT, FERC, and EPA to further improve federal interagency coordination response for energy emergencies.
In 2006, DOE assisted in recovery efforts from Hurricane Ernesto's pass through Florida and North Carolina in August. In 2005, DOE deployed emergency response experts to the Gulf region and had dozens of other individuals working on the hurricane response from DOE headquarters in Washington, DC. Led by the DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the Department coordinated with other federal agencies, state and local government leaders, and industry to overcome obstacles and bring power back online and bring fuel to affected regions of the country. At President Bush's direction, the Department made crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve available for loan and sale to oil refiners to help maintain gasoline supply for the nation. Additionally, DOE ensured that high-sulfur #2 diesel was provided to utility pole companies so that poles would be ready for installation as soon as the storms passed.
Megan Barnett, (202) 586-4940