State Energy Assurance Plans: Is Your State Ready?

November 15, 2013 By

September 18, 2012

By Megan Boutwell

When Buckeye Partners’ West Shore Pipeline had to be shut down this summer due to a leak, threatening gasoline shortages, Michigan’s governor Rick Snyder triggered provisions in the state’s energy assurance plan by declaring and energy emergency. This emergency declaration allowed drivers of gasoline trucks to be exempted from federal and Michigan weekly hours of service restrictions. In this way, tanker trucks could deliver fuel, without service restrictions, to the affected towns in the Upper Peninsula, until service could be restored.

State Energy Assurance Plans (EAPs) are meant to achieve a robust, secure, resilient and reliable energy infrastructure. EAPs allow state governments to restore services rapidly in the event of interruption or disaster. The U.S. energy infrastructure is vulnerable to severe weather events and other natural disasters, systems failures, and deliberate physical, cyber, or unconventional attacks. While the owners and operators are responsible for their energy systems in providing energy supplies, State and local officials are responsible for coordinating energy providers, government agencies, and stakeholders in the event of an outage. EAPs cover disruptions in transportation fuels, electricity and natural gas. The transportation fuels section should at minimum ensure that critical service providers have the necessary fuels to maintain public order and safety. These services include health care, police and fire, sanitation, public transportation, aviation ground support to name a few.

Most states applied for and received grants under the Stimulus (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) to develop or improve their EAPs. The level of detail in each state’s plan varies widely, some do not cover transportation fuels, and others do not have any plan in place. We have found that states with the most detailed plans are California, Delaware, Maine and Mississippi. These plans allow state governments to take swift action in the event of a disruption and communication strategies laid out in the plans allay public fears.