As states face more severe and frequent threats to energy systems — including storms, natural disasters, physical attacks, and cybersecurity threats — it is important that government officials are prepared to respond to emergencies and coordinate energy restoration. Ensuring that our nation’s critical infrastructure is resilient against physical and cybersecurity threats is a top priority for the Department of Energy (DOE), and we are committed to working closely with Federal, state, and industry partners to do so.

DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) and the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial (SLTT) team works regularly with DOE partners and stakeholders to not only prepare them to face such threats, but to build relationships and connections that strengthen our overall security and resilience posture. In April, SLTT spearheaded CESER’s involvement in two such events that promoted these efforts, underscoring the heart of restoration activities: close partnership and collaboration.

From March 14 – 16, the National Governors Association (NGA), the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), and CESER came together to host a three-day training to help state leaders prepare for a major energy emergency. The training shared knowledge and tools that officials need to coordinate with federal, local, and energy sector partners; communicate with their constituents; and guide their states through recovery and restoration after a disaster. In addition to state officials with vital roles in energy emergency responses, the trainings brought together public utility commission staff, energy management agency staff, and governors’ advisors from over 25 states.

This event was an example of how CESER brings these various groups together to take a holistic look at emergency response. Multiple CESER staff spoke to the attendees about topics such as threat monitoring and analysis, information sharing, and crisis communications, sharing best practices and highlighting DOE’s role in supporting our state and local government agencies. There was plenty of time for questions, discussion, and cross-collaboration between groups that don’t often have the opportunity to meet at such an in-depth level.

A few weeks later, on April 4 – 6, the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), the Kentucky Office of Energy Policy, and CESER hosted an in-person bootcamp in Louisville, Kentucky. The purpose of the bootcamp was to enhance State Energy Security Planners’ and Energy Emergency Responders’ ability to prepare for and respond to energy disruptions, and to facilitate intrastate and regional coordination and planning for energy security.

Through educational sessions and interactive breakouts, the bootcamp aimed to develop and strengthen energy security coordination, and familiarize the attendees with the methods, tools, and resources available in state energy security planning. This event gave CESER the valuable opportunity to hear from state officials responsible for energy security planning on the challenges they face, best practices they rely on, and specific ideas on how DOE can better support their planning efforts.

“Coordination across state agencies with energy and emergency responsibilities is absolutely crucial, and we need support across all levels of government to make it happen efficiently,” said SLTT Manager Lead Brandi Martin. “Events like these showcase the value of bringing together cross-agency stakeholders in the energy sector.”

Preparing for emergencies and disruptions to our country’s energy systems requires effort and collaboration across all levels of government and industry. By building relationships—both within and between the public and private sectors—formalizing information sharing processes, understanding threats, and participating in preparedness exercises, we can mitigate the risks we face and help to ensure that our nation remains safe, secure, and running at full power every day.

To learn more about best practices for state emergency management agencies and energy offices seeking to do integrated all-hazards planning, check out this new primer from the National Emergency Management Association, a valued partner of CESER.