Disaster Response and Mutual Aid
Press Release

ESCC: Industry and government coordinating Hurricane Michael response

ESCC: Electric Power Industry Is Coordinating Hurricane Michael Response Efforts With Officials Across All Levels of Government

WASHINGTON (October 10, 2018) – Hurricane Michael made landfall this afternoon near Panama City, Florida, as a strong category 4 storm. As of 7:00 p.m. on October 10, approximately 429,000 customers are without power, with the majority of outages in Florida. Michael remains a dangerous storm as it approaches Georgia and the Carolinas, with high winds and heavy rain.

Investor-owned electric companies, public power utilities, and electric cooperatives in the path of Hurricane Michael pre-positioned equipment, resources, and more than 30,000 workers from at least 24 states in strategic locations in advance of the storm to prepare for anticipated power outages and to minimize the time needed to begin damage assessment and recovery efforts. Crews are responding to power outages and doing what they can, where they can, and when they can, provided it is safe to do so. In some cases, storm damage will require that energy infrastructure be rebuilt in order to restore power.

Power restoration is a team effort, and strong industry-government coordination and cross-sector collaboration are essential. The CEO-led Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and FEMA are closely coordinating to support the ongoing preparation and staging activities, and the movement of mutual assistance crews.

"Hurricane Michael is a dangerous storm, and we appreciate the leadership from DOE, DHS, and FEMA in helping to coordinate the industry’s response with federal, state, and local officials,” said ESCC Co-chair, Duane Highley, president and CEO of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation.

The first step in any restoration is damage assessment—in some cases, crews may not be able to gain access to the most heavily damaged and flooded areas until the storm clears and it is deemed safe for them to enter. Crews will not be able to use certain equipment, including bucket trucks, until high winds subside. Search and rescue and life safety will be the top priorities.

“We know that being without power causes hardships, and electric companies ask customers to stay safe and continue to heed warnings from their local officials,” said ESCC Co-chair Kevin Wailes, CEO of Lincoln, Nebraska-based Lincoln Electric System. “Safety is the electric power industry’s number one priority, and we are focused on the safety of our customers, communities, and crews.”

It is critical that customers allow the first responders to do their jobs. Stay off roads, beaches, and waterways, and avoid returning home until state emergency officials have indicated it is safe to do so. Having roadways clogged with traffic will only impede restoration efforts.

"More than 30,000 workers from at least 24 states are mobilized and ready to start assessing damage and making repairs as soon as it is safe to do so," said ESCC Co-chair Tom Fanning, chairman, president, and CEO of Atlanta-based Southern Company. "The terrific coordination between the electric power industry and the government to prepare for and respond to this storm will aid our crews as they restore power and hope to the customers and communities we are so privileged to serve.”

About the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council

The ESCC serves as the principal liaison between leadership in the federal government and in the electric power sector, with the mission of coordinating efforts to prepare for national-level incidents or threats to critical infrastructure. Protecting the energy grid from threats that could impact national security and public safety is a responsibility shared by both the government and the electric power sector. The ESCC facilitates and supports policy- and public affairs-related activities and initiatives designed to enhance the reliability and resilience of the energy grid. These activities include all hazards, steady-state preparation, and emergency preparedness, response, and recovery for the nation’s electricity sector.