Moniz urges study of link between grid reliability, fuel availability

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The National Petroleum Council should study how power outages caused by major weather events such as last year’s Superstorm Sandy affect the availability of transportation fuel, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said today.

Speaking at an NPC meeting in Washington, Moniz said the Obama administration’s efforts to address climate change would feature a heavy focus on how to adapt to the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent extreme weather, including examining how to ensure the resiliency of energy infrastructure. And he said the federally chartered advisory committee to the Department of Energy should play a central role in those efforts.

Moniz noted that the fallout from Sandy, which devastated much of the East Coast last year, presented some potential lessons for the relationships between electricity and fuel supplies. Among the millions of customers who lost power in the blackouts caused by the storm’s aftermath were gas stations, refineries and other pieces of the oil supply chain, and fuel shortages were among the consequences faced by the hardest-hit states.

“We think this area could be really ripe for an important NPC study in terms of how we look at that,” Moniz said this morning.

DOE already has reached out to the two main trade associations for electric utilities and oil companies — the Edison Electric Institute and American Petroleum Institute — to identify potential vulnerabilities in the supply chain, Moniz said.

Moniz said DOE would be implementing a quadrennial energy review to aid implementation of President Obama’s recently outlined climate plan, which looks to various agencies within the federal government to coordinate efforts to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the effects of climate change.

Another area for the NPC to examine, Moniz said, is the “energy-water nexus,” because the oil industry is a heavy user of water as experts predict water supply is growing more constrained. He also said more study is needed on how to ensure that energy infrastructure is built to withstand the effects of climate change over the decades in which such projects are designed to operate.