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Resource to help utilities update pandemic response plans

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted utilities and other organizations to review existing or create epidemic/pandemic-response plans. To assist, the North American Transmission Forum (NATF), North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) jointly developed a resource to help utilities create, update or formalize their plans.

The Epidemic/Pandemic Response Plan focuses on planning/preparedness, response and recovery activities for a severe epidemic/pandemic. Noting that these types of events are unpredictable, an effective response depends on flexible and scalable management strategies and preventative measures taken in advance of potential events.

“Pre-planning for events such as the current pandemic ensures staff is healthy and safe, while still sustaining their effectiveness,” said NERC Senior Vice President and Chief Engineer Mark Lauby. “This resource can provide a road map for organizations to create or supplement their existing plans.”

A response plan should provide guidance and direction to promote and protect the health and safety of personnel and staff by implementing approaches and processes to ensure the secure and uninterrupted conduct of mission-critical operations, business and supporting functions identified in business or operations continuity plans.

The document provides examples and information related to COVID-19, including aspects for “returning to normal.” This resource will be updated on a periodic basis over the next several months as the situation evolves.

“This work is a great example of electric industry response and coordination and a continuation of the NATF’s concerted efforts on resilience,” noted NATF President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Galloway. “We are dedicated to leveraging NATF processes and expertise to maintain and enhance the resource over time.”

The document is intended to be complementary to other pandemic resources and has a specific and granular focus on operational aspects. It was developed for electric transmission organizations but the information may be adaptable to other critical infrastructure sectors and subsectors, FERC says.

NATF promotes excellence in the reliability, resiliency and security of the electric transmission system.

DOE’s mission is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology.

FERC is an independent federal agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil. FERC also reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licenses for hydropower projects.

NERC is a not-for-profit international regulatory authority whose mission is to assure the effective and efficient reduction of risks to the reliability and security of the grid.