On February 23 and 24, 2022, NASEO, in partnership with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), hosted Fractured Freeze: Electric Cooperative- State Energy Office Disaster Response Exercise in Arlington, Virginia. The exercise was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (DOE CESER) and included participants from Wisconsin, Louisiana, Virginia, Missouri, Mississippi, Indiana, and Kentucky. Ben Bolton, Senior Energy Programs Administrator at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Office of Energy Programs, served as exercise facilitator. The two main objectives of the exercise were to (1) examine the electric cooperative mutual assistance network and interoperability with State Energy Office plans in a multi-hazard, multi-region scenario and (2) build and strengthen relationships between electric cooperatives and state energy officials.
The scenario focused on the impacts of a polar vortex in the Northeast and an earthquake impacting the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Exercise participants walked through targeted questions and strategized on response and communication tactics. Some areas of discussion included strengthening systems to protect against cyberattacks or power outages, preparing for increased electrification of transportation and repair tools/equipment, assisting with regional waivers, and mitigation projects that will increase resilience of the electric system. In addition, state energy officials and the electric cooperative statewide organizations discussed future collaboration opportunities around updating State Energy Security plans, assembling grant applications, and general energy emergency planning and response for both manmade and natural hazards. The exercise will serve as a base for more regular communication between these groups on a state and regional level.