Building State Energy Assurance with an HSEEP Exercise

Client: New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning
emergency preparedness kit and checklist facilitating an energy assurance meeting emergency response scenario tabletop exercise energy emergency reponse scenario tabletop exercise during presentations Player Situation and After-Action Report covers

Project Overview

We designed and facilitated a tabletop exercise to test New Hampshire’s newly developed Energy Assurance Plan using the strict Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) guidelines for emergency management exercise development.

Need

Recovery Act funding enabled New Hampshire to develop a draft Energy Assurance Plan that identified energy vulnerabilities and outlined response to major disruptions. Before finalizing the plan, the Office of Energy and Planning (OEP) needed to test response procedures in coordination with existing state emergency response and emergency operations plans.

Our Solution

We designed a full-day seminar and tabletop exercise that engaged nearly 40 players from state agencies, energy providers, and critical infrastructure organizations. The event combined expert presentations with a challenging scenario that simulated a severe but realistic disruption for New Hampshire’s energy resources. We invited three state energy assurance and cyber security experts to deliver training presentations on areas of critical concern before the tabletop. During the exercise, Nexight used a combination of full-group discussion and facilitated breakout groups to walk players through two escalating scenarios. Facilitated discussions asked participants to examine their response actions and identify specific gaps or needs. Our original scenarios included an accident blocking critical waterways, a severe winter storm, and a loss of communications and information technology services during energy restoration. OEP-nominated evaluators observed player response to identify recommended areas for improvement. We analyzed recommendations from participants and evaluators to develop an HSEEP-compliant After-Action Report and an Improvement Plan that assigned specific roles and deadlines for improvement actions.

Impact

The exercise helped participants test their roles and responsibilities and identify communications and operations gaps that could affect response in a real event. New Hampshire is now using the After-Action Report and Improvement Plan to act on high-priority recommendations that will improve planning and response.