Obama Wants to Elevate Linemen to First Responder Status

on May 10, 2013 at 2:00 PM

New York And New Jersey Continue To Recover From Superstorm Sandy

Quick Take: I can’t think of a time when electric power reliability has been such a mainstream issue. Even President Obama is in on it, as you’ll read below. Given the interest from policymakers and the public, I hope our industry can use this opportunity to make the case for the money we need to modernize. I want to see us do a better job of showing the link between smart grid investments and improved reliability. For instance, S&C Electric has a tool it uses to help customers document the savings to their customers from reduced outages. – Jesse Berst


In a nod to electricity’s vital importance. President Obama met with a group of utility executives to review restoration plans in the aftermath of major storms. He reiterated his desire to designate utility workers as first responders, with the rights and responsibilities that implies.


CNN quoted EEI President Tom Kuhn as saying: “The president came onto one of those calls before the hurricane hit in New York and New Jersey and made a strong call to make electricity a first responder issue.” Kuhn called the President’s personal involvement “unprecedented.”


The administration’s primary goal is to remove the barriers for utility workers to reach the source of problems so they can rapidly restore power. First responder status designation would, among other things, allow trucks to easily cross the country without the need for state-specific permits or redundant stops at highway weigh stations.


The meeting discussed not just storms, but also the potential damage from a major cyber attack. Present were CEOs from major electric utility companies, representatives from industry trade organizations and officials from the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security. – By Jesse Berst


Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.