Overview

EEI’s member companies are committed to providing the electricity that powers our economy and our way of life. The electric power industry has a strong track record of maintaining high levels of reliability. However, incidents such as hurricanes, wildfires, or earthquakes can impact the energy grid and cause widespread power outages. That is why electric companies undertake power restoration and business continuity planning year-round to prepare for all types of emergencies. This includes exercises and drills to prepare them to respond to cyber and physical attacks against the energy grid and significant outages caused by severe weather events.

Restoring electricity after a major storm or other disruption is a complex task, and a safe and efficient restoration requires significant logistical expertise, skilled lineworkers, and specialized equipment. Electric companies affected by significant outages often turn to the industry’s mutual assistance network – a voluntary partnership of electric companies from across the country – to help speed restoration.

Preparing for Power Outages

The Steps To The Power Restoration Process

Every electric company has a detailed plan for restoring power after storms. Typically, one of the first steps is to make sure that power is no longer flowing through downed lines. Restoration then proceeds based on established priorities. Below are the steps to restore power after a storm. Learn More.

Step 1 step1
Step 2 step2
Step 3 Step 3
Step 4 Step 4
Step 5
Step 6
Step 1 step1
Power Plants
Power Plants Power plants, the primary source of power production, are assessed for damage and restored.
Step 2 step2
Transmission Lines
Transmission Lines High-voltage transmission lines serving thousands of customers over wide areas are repaired.
Step 3 Step 3
Substations
Substations Substations are brought online in order for power to reach local distribution lines.
Step 4 Step 4
Essential Services
Essential Services Power is restored to essential services and facilities critical to public health and safety such as hospitals, nursing homes, fire and police departments, and water systems.
Step 5
Large Service Areas
Large Service Areas Crews are dispatched to repair lines that will return service to the largest number of customers in the least amount of time. Service lines to neighborhoods, industries, and businesses are restored systematically.
Step 6
Individual Homes
Individual Homes Once major repairs are completed, service lines to individual homes and smaller groups of customers are restored. Some customers may not be able to receive power to their homes because of damage. Flooding can damage electrical systems, and inspections by a licensed electrician may be required before a home can receive power. Customers should never touch damaged equipment.

Mutual Assistance and Storm Response

Mutual assistance is an essential part of the electric power industry’s service restoration process and contingency planning. EEI’s mutual assistance program is a voluntary partnership of investor-owned electric companies across the country committed to helping restore power whenever and wherever assistance is needed.

Through mutual assistance, electric companies impacted by a major outage event can request help from electric companies across the country. When called upon, a company will send skilled restoration workers—both company employees and contractors—along with specialized equipment to help with the restoration efforts of a fellow company.

The goal of the mutual assistance program is to restore electric service in a safe, effective manner. Mutual assistance partnerships also allow companies to share best practices and technologies that help the industry improve its ability to prepare for – and respond to – emergencies; and enable a consistent, unified response to emergency events.

Spare Equipment and Grid Resilience Programs

Electric companies plan for all types of contingencies, and they own and have access to spare equipment as part of their business continuity planning. For example, companies, on an individual basis, own hundreds of additional spare transformers, and other equipment. In addition, just as energy companies share crews as part of the industry’s voluntary mutual assistance programs to restore power, they also regularly share transformers and other equipment.

Undergrounding

The nation’s electric transmission and distribution systems deliver power along millions of miles of lines to neighborhoods, businesses, and consumers. These lines are both overhead and underground.

Following any major storm or event that affects a large number of customers or damages a large part of the electric grid, it is common for customers, public officials, and the media to question whether underground electrical infrastructure would resolve or substantially mitigate weather-related outages.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

There are many issues to consider before transitioning from an overhead system to an underground system. This report examines the issue of placing overhead electric transmission and distribution lines underground and explores the issues of reliability, cost and benefit, and effect on neighboring communities.

ESCC and Industry Partnerships

The Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC) serves as the principal liaison between the federal government and the electric power industry on efforts to prepare for, and respond to, national-level disasters or threats to critical infrastructure. During storms, wildfires, and other incidents, EEI works through the CEO-led ESCC to coordinate with government partners at the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Security Council to ensure that industry and government efforts are aligned.

Members-Only Resources

EEI Issue Communities

The EEI Issue Communities provide members with an online forum to facilitate policy development, information exchange and networking. Members can communicate and share ideas, participate in discussion forums, send email blasts, create file libraries, organize conference calls, and keep track of important dates and upcoming events.

Learn More

Communication Tools

Industry Response and Restoration Communication Tools

Staff Contacts

  • Chris Eisenbrey
    Senior Director, Business Continuity & Operations
    ceisenbrey@eei.org
    202-508-5574
  • Jennifer Hart
    Specialist, Preparedness & Business Continuity
    jhart@eei.org
    202-508-5518
  • Wally Mealiea
    Director, Preparedness & Recovery Policy
    wmealiea@eei.org
    202-508-5608
  • Tim Kuhl
    Senior Manager, Preparedness & Distribution Operations
    tkuhl@eei.org
    202-508-5172