Disaster Response and Mutual Aid

Public power mutual aid efforts kick in with approach of Dorian

In preparation for Hurricane Dorian, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and the U.S. Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority have actively engaged the American Public Power Association’s mutual aid process and are preparing to assess any potential damage to their electric systems and, if necessary, seek resources and/or assistance.

Earlier Wednesday, Dorian was a tropical storm as it approached Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands but became a hurricane “as it pushes through the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the first storm there since 2017's Hurricane Maria, and is an increasing danger to the Southeast U.S., including Florida, over the Labor Day holiday weekend,” the Weather Channel reported.

Florida prepares for Dorian

Meanwhile, public power utilities in Florida are keeping a close watch on Dorian and are taking a number of steps in advance of the system’s possible landfall.

Amy Zubaly, Executive Director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association, on Aug. 28 said that FMEA has been in close contact with its 33 public power members regarding Dorian.

“We are all actively monitoring the storm and our members are activating their internal storm plans,” she said, noting that she has been in touch with the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the state Emergency Operations Center, which is on standby for activation.

Mutual aid partners across the southeast and beyond have been put on notice for any potential mutual aid needs, Zubaly said.

“While the current projections of Dorian have it making landfall somewhere along the east coast of Florida early next week as a potential Category 3 hurricane, the projected track and intensity can change. However, if it stays on its current path, I do anticipate several of Florida’s public power members having the need for mutual aid assistance,” Zubaly said.

Zubaly is one of the network coordinators for Region IV, which along with Georgia, Florida and Alabama, covers Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

A network coordinator serves as the point of contact for a group of participating mutual aid utilities or in rare situations, a large or isolated utility. Network coordinators may be part of a state association, joint action agency or public power utility.

In the event of a state or regional disaster, public power utilities can reach out to network coordinators in their respective regions. The network coordinators will then reach out to American Public Power Association staff in the event that mutual aid is needed on a regional or national level as well as when federal government support is needed and to provide general situational awareness from the region they represent.

Association starts Mutual Aid Working Group conference calls

The Association on Aug. 28 began its daily Mutual Aid Working Group conference calls and has been in close communication with both the US Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority as well as PREPA regarding current resource availability.

In addition, member utilities and joint action agencies in the Southeast are beginning preparedness efforts and planning for anticipated resource needs based on the forecast track.

Along with the Mutual Aid Working Group calls, the Association’s Mutual Aid Team continues to coordinate with industry partners at the Edison Electric Institute and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, as well as the Department of Energy.

More information and updates will be posted to the Association’s Storm Center at www.PublicPower.org/StormCenter.