During any disaster, whether it be a hurricane, wildfire, earthquake, or volcanic eruption, Department of Energy (DOE) emergency responders are prepared to work with their partners to aid in restoring power to those impacted. DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) coordinates DOE’s response to hazards facing the energy sector.

When a potential major incident is identified, such as a hurricane, CESER begins preparing staffing plans. Working with FEMA, CESER dispatches responders to both State Emergency Operations Centers in threatened states and the FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center in the threatened region(s) in advance of the incident. Deployed responders coordinate with local counterparts and industry partners in the state to identify any issues that could potentially impact safe and efficient restoration. Meanwhile at the Department of Energy headquarters, CESER holds pre-disaster calls with state and industry partners to discuss preparations across the threatened area and to help identify any issues that may require federal support.

Once a disaster happens, on-the-ground responders provide subject matter expertise to state and industry partners about assuaging the disaster’s impacts to the energy sector, restoring energy systems to full capacity, and identifying any unmet needs that may require federal support or coordination. Throughout restoration, CESER holds daily calls with both the electricity and oil & natural gas sub-sectors to ensure there is a unified response effort, as well as coordination calls with the impacted states and various Federal partners. CESER also provides twice-daily situation reports and analysis of impacts to the energy sector, including potential regional and national impacts for large events.

For areas where restoration may be prolonged, responders work closely with local utilities, the affected state(s), FEMA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on temporary emergency power requirements. In the event a disaster exhausts local resources, deployed responders assist local officials and utilities with damage assessments and in identifying mutual assistance, equipment, and materials needs. The response team and FEMA then coordinate logistics with industry partners to assure materials, equipment, and additional mutual assistance are mobilized to provide timely support.

Following each response, CESER reviews response and recovery processes, procedures, roles, and responsibilities to evolve their emergency response organization capabilities in order to optimize future response and recovery support. For remote locations in particular, the recovery and restoration efforts are reviewed extensively, with issues of grid resilience and energy reliability taking precedence in future response planning efforts.

Reliable, resilient, and secure sources of energy are vital to the national and economic security of the United States. Under their leadership, ISER is working with its partners to maintain a reliable national energy infrastructure, applying lessons learned from last year to prepare for the storms and other natural threats of the future.