NARUC Forms Emergency Preparedness Task Force
Tuesday, July 07, 2020 | Comments

In response to the coronavirus pandemic and weather emergencies, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) President Brandon Presley established a new task force focused on emergency preparedness, recovery and resiliency and a special subcommittee to examine the national response to COVID-19. Arkansas Commissioner Kimberly O’Guinn will chair the new task force, and Washington Commissioner Ann Rendahl will chair the subcommittee.

The Presidential Task Force on Emergency Preparedness, Recovery and Resiliency is a response to recent extreme weather events, natural disasters and the national emergency from the COVID-19 pandemic. These events heightened the nation’s collective awareness of the need for access to energy and the importance of ensuring the continued delivery of essential energy services. The task force is comprised of a balanced, diverse group of NARUC members, stakeholders and experts who will consider policy issues facing the regulatory community related to emergency preparedness, recovery and resiliency.

The task force will lead NARUC’s efforts in responding to and educating members about existing and emerging issues and opportunities associated with emergency preparedness, recovery and resiliency, including best practices, funding opportunities, resources and collaborative efforts. Considerations for the task force include available federal funding, the meaning of resiliency; the critical connections that exist between regulatory policy and implementation; the relationship between preparedness, response and resilience; and the future of resiliency as it relates to a diverse and changing energy future.

The task force will include a special subcommittee comprised of and chaired by members of the task force to study the COVID-19 pandemic response. Specifically, the subcommittee will gather, examine and analyze regulatory and industry actions, responses and lessons learned from COVID-19.

“As state regulators, we are uniquely aware of how these events affect our utilities, which includes electric, gas, water and telecommunications companies,” said Presley, a commissioner with the Mississippi Public Service Commission. “Anything that affects utilities affects the people and businesses in our communities. Establishing this task force and its special subcommittee will enable us to better identify and address a host of relevant issues.”

The task force’s primary goals include:
• Conduct research and provide ongoing education on federal funding to support recovery;
• Support NARUC member preparedness in the event of a Black Sky event;
• Seek to build consensus on construction standards for FEMA reference in recovery; and
• Provide education on COVID-19 lessons learned and best practices for the path forward.

The task force will convene sessions with the NARUC community via conference calls, webinars and at each of NARUC’s three annual national meetings, organize educational efforts within NARUC and serve as a resource for the association’s leadership on these programs.

The task force will be in effect for two years under its charter and will convene its first meeting later this month.

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