New report looks at ways of improving US resilience and response to catastrophic power outages
- Published: Thursday, 13 December 2018 09:02
The President's National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) has issued a draft report which looks at preparedness for a future catastrophic power outage impacting the United States. NIAC was tasked to examine ability of the US to ‘respond to and recover from a catastrophic power outage of a magnitude beyond modern experience, exceeding prior events in severity, scale, duration, and consequence’.
What is a catastrophic power outage? The report states it is a defined as follows:
- Events beyond modern experience that exhaust or exceed mutual aid capabilities;
- Likely to be no-notice or limited-notice events that could be complicated by a cyber-physical attack;
- Long duration, lasting several weeks to months due to physical infrastructure damage;
- Affects a broad geographic area, covering multiple states or regions and affecting tens of millions of people;
- Causes severe cascading impacts that force critical sectors—drinking water and wastewater systems, communications, transportation, healthcare, and financial services - to operate in a degraded state.
NIAC interviewed dozens of senior leaders and experts and conducted an extensive review of studies and statutes. It found that ‘existing national plans, response resources, and coordination strategies would be outmatched by a catastrophic power outage’. NIAC concludes that significant public and private action is needed to prepare for and recover from a catastrophic outage ‘that could leave the large parts of the nation without power for weeks or months, and cause service failures in other sectors - including water and wastewater, communications, transportation, healthcare, and financial services - that are critical to public health and safety and our national and economic security’.
The report makes two main recommendations which are then discussed in detail:
The United States should:
- Design a national approach to prepare for, respond to, and recover from catastrophic power outages that provides the federal guidance, resources, and incentives needed to take action across all levels of government and industry and down to communities and individuals; and
- Improve its understanding of how cascading failures across critical infrastructure will affect restoration and survival.
Read the report (PDF).