A panel of experts from the Washington State Energy Office, the offices of Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Congressman David McKinley, PE (WV-1), the U.S. Army, ICF International, and the National Association of Regional Councils spoke on resilience challenges, opportunities and strategies during a dynamic discussion at the NASEO 2018 Energy Policy Outlook Conference. The discussion covered the physical security and cybersecurity of energy systems and emphasized the critical need for advance planning and exercises to ensure coordinated and effective responses. Ariel Marshall, Ph.D., of Sen. Shaheen’s office said of resilience “National security and resilience are connected.” 

“For the U.S. Army,” noted Michael McGhee, Executive Director of the Army’s Office of Energy Initiatives, “we define resilience as ‘the plan B.’” Key questions factored into resilience planning include: what are the key threats and tolerable levels of risk? How long will the event that causes an outage last? How many days of supply should be on hand, and where should those supplies be located? How can you work with your neighboring states and regional neighbors to bounce back or support each other? Judsen Bruzgul, Ph.D., of ICF International added that “as we plan, we have to make sure not to create additional vulnerability” (for instance, will data collection and event monitoring technology introduce unintended cyber risks)? For the members of the National Association of Regional Councils, the biggest issues are the vulnerability of the transportation system and cyber threats. 

In addition to pre-planning, rebuilding and recovery offer opportunities for increased resilience. Lou Hrkman of Congressman McKinley’s office described energy efficiency as the “unsung hero of resilience” because it offers a particularly compelling post-disaster strategy due to its ability to help structures stay warm or cool longer when the power goes out and reduce grid impacts. 

Panelists identified expansion of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), energy efficiency, and regional exercises and coordination as opportunities to that State Energy Offices can leverage to improve resilience.