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Braving Hurricanes to Boost Energy Security
Emergency Support Function #12

Director’s Corner

by Brian Anderson, PhD.

The importance of energy in our lives is never more apparent than when a power failure occurs. Yet, as Indian yoga and meditation guru Paramahansa Yogananda once said, “the season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success.” As the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season begins, NETL is proud to have a dedicated team of employee volunteers committed to helping facilitate the restoration of power and learning from critical outages as part of the Emergency Support Function #12 (ESF #12) program.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response’s Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration Division oversees the ESF #12 program, which provides support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of the United States National Response Framework. NETL supports this program, maintaining a team of regional coordinators who cover FEMA regions that span 36 states in the continental U.S., plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

When a hurricane occurs, our employees respond to coordinate and facilitate the sharing of information between government and private partners, so all parties involved can address urgent energy issues in the field and identify solutions. In doing so, our employees help to both restore power in the short term and improve our nation’s energy infrastructure in the future. They volunteer for this demanding role, which requires them to endure challenging conditions and sacrifice time with their loved ones to serve Americans in need.

Restoring power as quickly as possible is crucial following a hurricane. In some cases, it’s truly a matter of life and death. Power restoration aids survival by ensuring disaster victims can withstand extreme temperatures, prepare food, and maintain their health and safety. During the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, five NETL employees responded to four hurricanes, spending a total of more than 50 days away from home to help others recover from disastrous circumstances.

I appreciate our team’s hard work to share their energy expertise for public benefit. In doing so, they are laying important groundwork to fulfill NETL’s mission to discover, integrate, and mature technology solutions that enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations. They build collaborative relationships with key stakeholders and gain invaluable knowledge about America’s energy infrastructure — including where it fails and how it can be improved. This information helps to guide research and development of technologies — at NETL and elsewhere within DOE — that can lessen the impact of future natural disasters by ensuring access to safe, secure and reliable energy for all Americans.

I want to thank our ESF #12 team members for their dedication and service and wish them a safe hurricane season.