Column: State needs emergency preparedness
Michigan in the past few years has had to deal with a wide range of threats to our energy security, such as severe storms, aging infrastructure, physical threats and cyberattacks.
We had multiple storms this year that have caused millions of people across the state to lose power, with hundreds of thousands out for days. Last year, we saw attempts to place explosive devices at key infrastructure locations. The year before that, we experienced a successful ransomware attack on the customer service systems of the Lansing Board of Water and Light. After all that, I am a true believer in emergency response planning and preparedness, because I have seen it work. Michigan has been successful at dealing with threats, but we must continue to prepare for natural and manmade incidents which can disrupt the production, transmission, and distribution of vital energy resources.
That’s why I believe it is critically important that the U.S. House of Representatives consider HR 3050, the Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act of 2017. Authored by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton of St. Joseph, the chairman of the House Energy Subcommittee, the bill would amend the Energy Policy and Conservation Act to provide federal financial assistance to states such as Michigan to implement, review and revise their energy security plans, including a greater emphasis on cybersecurity.
This act will allow Michigan to leverage federal resources, knowledge and expertise that will help us to build stronger partnerships with public and private stakeholders to guarantee a better energy future for all Michiganders. Because energy assurance and security are of regional and national concern, it is essential to collaborate with public entities at all levels.
Every vital energy resource for Michigan is part of a larger interconnected system. That means for Michigan’s plan to work to protect our residents in a crisis, we need all our neighbors to have a plan that works, too. Every state can write a petroleum shortage response plan — and Michigan is one of the few states outside the hurricane zone that has one — but the federal government is irreplaceable in making sure those plans are comprehensive and compatible.
The Michigan Agency for Energy will continue to work closely with our cohorts throughout state government to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities while adapting to ever-evolving challenges.
HR 3050 allows a high degree of flexibility in the energy security process while allowing for enhanced collaboration with local and industry partners, other states, and the federal government. This is particularly critical as we attempt to prepare for or prevent low-frequency/high-impact physical or cyberattacks on the state’s energy system. I urge the U.S. House of Representatives to pass H.R. 3050, which will help Michigan and the region work toward a reliable energy future for years to come.
Valerie Brader is the executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy.