WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Director of the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) Kevin Kolevar today outlined a number of steps that the department is taking to prepare for hurricane season in the United States. Last year, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita knocked out electricity to a large portion of the Gulf Coast and damaged a number of oil and gas recovery platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and refineries along the shore.
"Electricity and fuel are necessary to sustain the public's health and grow the nation's economy. After a disaster that shuts down energy supplies, the federal government, state and local leaders, and the industry need to work together to eliminate barriers and restore power. Our work in strengthening communications, improving our modeling systems, and coordinating overall response will help bring power back online as quickly as possible after a hurricane," Mr. Kolevar said.
Since the hurricanes of 2005, DOE has strengthened its hurricane response system through increased coordination between federal, state, and local leaders in a number of ways, including:
- Training an additional 30 employees for emergency response, bringing the cadre of specially trained DOE response coordination personnel to more than 70;
- Hosting the Energy Leadership forum in Tunica, MS, in January, to review best practices and lessons learned with industry representatives and federal, state, and local government leaders;
- Updating and enhanced the hurricane modeling system for DOE's Visualization Room;
- Working with states to improve their energy assurance plans; and
- Implementing a hotline for the 2006 hurricane season which will allow state and local leaders and representatives from the energy industry to improve communications with DOE during emergencies.
In 2005, DOE deployed emergency response experts to the Gulf region and had dozens of other individuals working on the hurricane response from DOE headquarters in Washington, DC. Led by OE, the department coordinated with other federal agencies, state and local government leaders, and private industry to overcome obstacles and bring power back online and bring fuel to affected regions of the country. At President Bush's direction, the department made crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve available for loan and sale to oil refiners to help maintain gasoline supply for the nation. Additionally DOE ensured that high-sulfur #2 diesel was provided to utility pole companies so that poles would be ready for installation as soon as the storms passed.
Craig Stevens, (202) 586-4940