Disaster preparedness, response and recovery strategies focused on the survivability of the regions energy infrastructure are key areas of emphasis in a new collaboration among the U.S. Department of Energys National Energy Technology Laboratory, West Virginia University Research Corp. and the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

A formal memorandum of understanding was signed by Carl O. Bauer, director of NETL ; Curt M. Peterson, vice president of research and economic development at WVU and president of the Research Corp.; and James W. Spears, cabinet secretary for WV DMAPS and homeland security adviser to the governor of West Virginia.

Focus areas of the agreement are:

  • disaster preparedness, response and recovery, covering improved situational awareness, exercise and operational support
  • economic development opportunities, including use of energy resources
  • security and resiliency of energy assets and infrastructure, including relationships to other critical infrastructures such as transportation and water
  • improved community resiliency to catastrophic events

In signing the agreement, Bauer said,We recognize the complementary strengths of each organization, and we encourage collaboration to bring together the best talent to address issues concerning the security and resiliency of energy infrastructure of West Virginia and the nation. Affordable, reliable and clean energy is critical to the nations economy, security and well-being. Each of our respective organizations brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the table to address these critical energy issues.

Peterson stated,We all know about West Virginias long and ongoing relationship to energy production. But it is time that more resources, talent and attention are given to the states energy role during times of emergencies. The agreement we are executing is a commitment to work together to make sure the infrastructure that takes energy to the people of our region is safe and that we are prepared and able to recover from natural or manmade disaster.

Spears said,Keeping West Virginia energy production and distribution operating at optimum levels during a regional or national crisis is crucial to response and recovery efforts and a return to normal conditions as quickly as possible. Our agreement to work together to improve the resiliency and security of regional energy systems helps West Virginia plan for the unexpected, and it will improve our capability to maintain energy production and distribution at optimum levels during crisis events.

The signing represents an agreement by NETL , WVU and WV DMAPS to jointly develop and implement plans and strategies to improve energy infrastructure resiliency and security.

Key activities of the alliance include energy infrastructure vulnerability assessments and data gathering, including identification of gaps and recommendations to improve security; research and development activity on projects incorporating sensors, mobile energy supply systems, protective materials, geospatial tools and computational tools; modeling, simulation and analysis, and decision support tools to improve regional energy infrastructure resiliency and security. Regional programs developed through the collaborative will be adoptable at a national level.

NETL is a government-owned and operated national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy with research centers in Morgantown, Pittsburgh and Albany, Ore. It supports DOE s mission to advance the national, economic and energy security of the nation. NETL implements a broad spectrum of energy and environmental research and development programs to economically power the nations homes, industries, businesses and transportation.

WVU is the flagship, land-grant doctoral degree-granting research university in the state. WVU s primary mission is to provide high-quality programs of instruction at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels; to stimulate and foster basic and applied research and scholarship; to encourage other creative and artistic work; to serve the state with leadership in energy innovation and economic development; and to bring the resources of the university to all segments of society.

WV DMAPS has missions in military affairs, public safety, emergency management and homeland security and implements measures that support homeland security at the federal, regional and local levels. Divisionsincluding Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the State Police, the West Virginia National Guard and State Fire Marshalperform mission roles for assisting local emergency managers and first responders in emergency response, disaster recovery and protection of life and property.