Two new NARUC reports focus on Covid lessons learned; government funding opportunities

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Publications recommend actions for improved energy systems resilience and lessons from covid-19 pandemic.

This week during the 133rd Annual Meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), the Emergency Preparedness, Recovery, and Resiliency (EPRR) Task Force announced the release of two new publications that examine key regulatory considerations for emergency preparedness, disaster response and recommend specific actions for state public utility commissions to enhance energy system resilience to major disruptive events. 

The two publications are: Federal Funding Opportunities Guidebook and the final report of the EPRR Task Force’s special Subcommittee on COVID-19 Lessons Learned from the Ongoing Response to the COVID-19 Crisis. Members of the Task Force presented a briefing of the findings over the past year at the meeting’s opening general session, led by EPRR Chair Kimberly O’Guinn, a commissioner at the Arkansas Public Utility Commission.

The EPRR Task Force was formed in April of 2020 in response to recent extreme weather events, natural disasters and the national emergency from the COVID-19 pandemic. These events heightened the nation’s collective awareness of the need for access to energy and the continued delivery of essential energy services. The final ‘lessons learned’ style report of the Subcommittee on COVID-19 details key lessons learned for state commissions from the ongoing response to the COVID-19 crisis. The scope of the analysis includes workforce issues, changing business practices, low- to moderate-income customer impacts, regulatory responses, utility financial approaches to pandemic response and other key challenges. 

Washington Utilities and Transportation Commissioner Ann Rendahl, chair of the EPRR Task Force’s Subcommittee on COVID-19 said that even though the pandemic isn’t over, she feels it is “important that we take note of the lessons we have already learned, apply them to how we conduct business now and better prepare ourselves in the event of potential future public health crises.” 

The EPRR Task Force’s Federal Funding Opportunities & Construction Standards Subcommittee produced the Federal Funding Opportunities Guidebook, which details eight priority federal funding opportunities, key takeaways for state utility regulators concerning those funding opportunities and program eligibility requirements. Some examples of potential projects eligible for federal funding include:

  • Floodwall construction
  • Utility infrastructure upgrades
  • Transmission line hardening
  • Microgrids
  • Gensets
  • Emergency medical services substations
  • Threat identification

The guidebook is a reference for NARUC members who can encourage fellow states agencies and regulated utilities within their jurisdiction to take advantage of available federal funding for disaster response and hazard mitigation. 


Note: A session at DISTRIBUTECH Connect will cover federal energy incentives for electric utilities. Connect takes place on January 25, 2022 in Dallas. Qualified utility representatives attend for free. Learn more.


“This guidebook provides state regulators with a foundational understanding of the various federal funding opportunities available to states in the event of a major disaster,” said Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, chair of the FFOCS Subcommittee. “Additionally, there are several federal assistance programs that allow for investments to enhance energy resilience in our states. It is critical that state public utility commissioners be aware of these types of federal funding outlets and encourage their states to pursue investments that ensure reliable and efficient essential utility services.”  

“Lessons Learned from the Ongoing Response to the COVID-19 Crisis” was authored by CPI staff William McCurry with contributions from the Subcommittee on COVID-19 and broader EPRR Task Force and is available on NARUC’s website at bit.ly/NARUCLessonsCOVID19. The Federal Funding Opportunities Guidebook was developed by Converge Strategies, LLC, as a subcontractor to NARUC, with contributions from the FFOCS Subcommittee and broader EPRR Task Force. The guidebook is available at https://bit.ly/FFOCSGuidebook

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Jennifer Runyon is a Senior Content Director at Clarion Energy, writing, editing and posting content on POWERGRID International and planning conference sessions for DISTRIBUTECH's live and virtual events. She is the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH International. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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