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Our History

Our History

The history of Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) begins in August 2003, when the Department created two offices to provide focus in several critical areas: the Office of Electric Transmission and Distribution (TD), which included elements from the DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office and the DOE Policy and International Affairs office, to advance the technologies needed to ensure a reliable, robust and modern U.S. electricity grid; and the Office of Energy Assurance (EA), to coordinate Federal response activities within the energy sector during energy disruptions and developed strategies to harden infrastructure against such disruptions.

On August 14, 2003, large portions of the Midwest and Northeast United States and Ontario, Canada were hit by a massive blackout which disabled over 61 gigawatts of electrical capacity affecting over 50 million people and causing (in the U.S.) somewhere between $4 and $10 billion in damages. Both offices immediately responded to the disaster. EA staff facilitated energizing an electrical line between Connecticut and New York, bringing back on line large parts of New York City. TD staff worked with the newly-established U.S./Canada Power System Outage Task Force to analyze the causes of the blackout and recommend future steps to avoid a reoccurrence.

In 2005 both offices, along with elements of the DOE Fossil Energy office, were merged into the new Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE). Within several months, in August and September of that year, the Gulf Coast was devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, causing billions of dollars in damage, huge disruptions in oil and gas production and distribution, and electricity distribution. OE moved within hours of the landfalls of these hurricanes to coordinate Federal efforts to restore both electrical power and the flow of petroleum products throughout the Eastern half of the country. As these restoration efforts were concluded, OE staff turned their attention to working with other Federal agencies, State and local governments, and the private sector to develop simulation and other tools to help reduce energy system vulnerability to future threats.

In 2007, OE was elevated and the position of Assistant Secretary of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability was created. Since its inception, OE has been working to stimulate investment in electric and energy infrastructure, advance the state of both scientific development and state and regional policies in supply and demand side electric technologies, identify barriers to continued reliable electric service, deepen consideration of security and resiliency measures in infrastructure planning, and expand partnerships with State and private sector stakeholders. We have played and will continue to play a major role in addressing immediate challenges to America's energy security, while sustaining applied research into new technologies and policies to answer the challenges we face in the future.