Exercising Energy Assurance with State and Local Leaders

Client: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration
barge under a bridge facilitating energy assurance breakout session temperature cards to gauge preparedness for the scenario leading a large-group panel session National Energy Assurance Planning Conference takeaways slide

Project Overview

Nexight Group worked with more than 900 state and local officials and industry personnel to test their coordination in an energy disruption and improve their energy assurance planning.

Need

More than 90 states and cities received Recovery Act funding to develop or improve their energy assurance plans in 2010. But if these written plans lack coordination with other state and local plans, industry response plans, and federal authorities, they will sit unused. Exercising critical operations enables state and local planners to address gaps and seams in energy assurance plans, making them effective tools during a disruption.

Our Solution

We worked with DOE and a team of contractors to design and facilitate four regional tabletop exercises that brought together state and local officials with their regional energy providers to test coordination in response to mounting energy disruptions. Scenarios combined three highly realistic events—such as a hurricane, terrorist attack, and trucker strike—tailored to the region and its specific energy resources. At each workshop, the team divided participants into four breakout groups (one facilitated by Nexight staff) to draw out critical communications, information sharing, and operational issues that emergency management officials would face. Following breakouts, Nexight Group facilitated a full group panel discussion at three points in each exercise to broadly share lessons learned. A final national conference invited more than 250 state, local, and industry professionals to share what they learned from improving their plans and capabilities. We facilitated a national-level tabletop exercise, and synthesized the key lessons learned from owner/operater, State, local, and resilience panel discussions in real time. Nexight presented these lessons learned on the final day of the conference as an immediate takeaway for workshop participants.

Impact

Participants routinely shared critical information they learned—often a previously unknown capability or requirement of a key partner—that greatly impacted response efforts. Because planning alone did not reveal these insights, the exercises enabled state and local officials to improve coordination with their industry partners prior to a major event.