Power Lines Blog

Upping disaster response through mutual aid

Mutual aid represents the essence of public power — neighbors helping neighbors restore power as quickly and safely as possible in the aftermath of a disaster. Public power utilities have strong emergency response processes, with coordination among federal, state, and private-sector first responders. We are committed to continuously improving grid safety and reliability to keep the lights on for customers.

This commitment was never more evident than in October 2012, when Superstorm Sandy caused widespread damage — affecting states all along the eastern seaboard as well as several inland states. Public power’s response was immediate and far-reaching. After Sandy made landfall, more than 1,000 electric crews, with 3-4  helpers on each crew, came from as a far away as California and the Florida Keys to help rebuild the electric system in the mid-Atlantic area. Utility workers from the Midwest and the South drove down in their bucket trucks, while those from the West flew by military transport aircraft and charter planes. Helpers from more than 20 states spent weeks working long hours  — often sleeping in their trucks — to ensure that devastated communities could begin to rebuild quickly and safely.

While APPA was very proud of public power’s post-Sandy service restoration effort, it became clear that more could be done. So APPA developed a new Public Power Mutual Aid Playbook to support public power utilities’ future disaster preparation and response efforts. We hope the playbook will bolster an already strong national network of mutual aid participants that stand ready to assist their fellow public power utilities.

APPA thanks the members of our Mutual Aid Working Group, the architects of the nation’s public power mutual aid network, who labored to bring this project to completion. Special thanks should go to the working group chair Danette Scudder from the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association and vice chair Gary Nieborsky from Central Lincoln Public Utility District.

I encourage you to review the playbook and keep it handy. And if you’re not already a member of APPA’s Mutual Aid Network, join today. Just email APPA at MutualAid@PublicPower.org or visit www.PublicPower.org/MutualAid. The utility that needs to call for aid might just be yours!

Sue Kelly

Sue Kelly

President and CEO