NIAC Publishes Report on Catastrophic Power Outages

On December 18, 2018, the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) published its findings on the nation’s ability to respond to and recover from widespread long-term power outages. The report, titled Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage: How to Strengthen the Capabilities of a Nation, concluded that “existing national plans, response resources, and coordination strategies would be outmatched by a catastrophic power outage.”

The report corroborated many findings from similar studies and supported the corrective actions identified from recent exercises. It also stressed that this challenge must be addressed in a holistic manner by leveraging public-private relationships and supporting programs at the state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) levels. Some of the findings that NASEO members may find of particular interest include:

  • Existing frameworks do not identify who has ultimate decision-making authority or clearly define the roles to be undertaken by SLTT governments and the private sector during a widespread, multi-state catastrophic power outage that will require coordinated cross-sector, cross-government response.
  • SLTT leaders and owners and operators have the best understanding of the needs of their community and can provide valuable information on how to make the most effective allocation decisions with limited available resources.
  • There are no coordinated, consistent standards or design criteria for increasing resilience to a catastrophic power outage that industry and government could work toward over time.
  • Companies and SLTT governments need time and justification to support making investments in more resilient infrastructure. A federal design basis could provide the guidance for a more coordinated and incremental increase in resilience.
  • Any efforts at the community level need to include input from SLTT governments, NGOs, critical service providers, and community leaders.

Jeff Pillon, NASEO’s Director of Energy Assurance, was consulted during the development of this report. In addition, the NIAC used NASEO’s Guidance for States on Petroleum Shortage Response Planning to inform the report. NASEO is pleased to play an active and meaningful role in the energy security community. To download the report, click here.