Energy assurance planning: Why and how California cities are preparing for the worst

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By: SGN Staff

Quick Take: How do you make a city resilient against natural and man-made disasters? That's a question more and more cities want to answer in the face of increasing superstorms and rising cyber-attacks. Fortunately, the state of California has been working to help its communities create energy assurance plans.

 

When smart grid pioneer Erich Gunther told me that his firm was right in the middle of this planning, I asked him to share the lessons that are emerging. Below you will find a helpful description of the three tiers of a plan to support a city’s energy needs during the initial moments of a major event and through the restoration process.

 

I've said it many times, but I'll say it again – utilities that want to stay in step with their regulators and ratepayers must be talking about reliability and resiliency. I can't think of a better way to prove your sincerity than collaborating on the kind of plan Erich describes below. - By Jesse Berst

 

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By Erich Gunther

 

For the past two years, the California Energy Commission has been assisting California communities to develop local energy assurance plans (EAP). The goal of the California Local Energy Assurance Planning (CaLEAP) program is to help local governments become more energy resilient and to ensure reliable energy supply to key assets.

 

A Local Energy Assurance Plan (LEAP) seeks to maintain a civil presence following an energy emergency. It allows the local government to assure security and safety for citizens and businesses. Even when the local municipality is the utility provider, large-scale emergencies may exceed the capabilities of existing emergency backup systems, either in capacity, fuel supply, or operating time.

 

The Public Technology Institute has developed “Local Government Energy Assurance Guidelines” under the auspices of the US Department of Energy. By following these guidelines, a municipality will:

·         Identify key public and private contacts

·         Formulate roles and responsibilities

·         Understand legal parameters

·         Determine actions to reduce adverse impacts

·         Mitigate disruptions to the energy supply system

·         Elevate awareness of energy security and assurance

·         Become better informed about EA resources

·         Improve all-hazards emergency preparedness and response

·         Learn about critical infrastructure, key assets, and essential services

 

With an Energy Assurance Plan (EAP), a municipality will be able to then respond to an energy emergency in a similar manner to other emergencies such as flooding, earthquakes, and fire.

 

A critical element: Prioritize key assets

A critical element of any plan – but especially for energy resiliency – is to identify and prioritize key assets to protect during the emergency. Along with this prioritization is an examination of any rules or regulations that would preclude executing the plan or operating the key assets.

 

The team at EnerNex recommends a three-tiered process to managing energy resiliency and assurance before and during a natural or manmade disaster.