Executive Authority During Energy Emergencies

The road map is a tool to help Governors prepare in advance of an energy emergency and inform their decision making in the event of an energy emergency.


Executive Summary

THE ISSUE: An energy emergency, such as an electrical grid outage, pipeline disruption or fuel shortage, occurs when an imminent or realized severe energy supply interruption threatens the health, safety, economic stability, and national security of a population.

THE ROLE OF STATES: Governors have the authority to declare a state of emergency. An energy emergency may require Governors to execute their emergency powers to aid in response, restoration and recovery.

THE ROAD MAP: The road map is a tool to help Governors prepare in advance of an energy emergency and inform their decision making in the event of an energy emergency.

This road map will help Governors:

  • Understand state and federal legal authorities,
  • Learn about key decision points,
  • Identify when to execute formal and informal actions, and
  • Provide guidance on communication and coordination strategies.


How to use the road map:

The road map is a tool that helps Governors and their key advisors determine how to act when an event—whether caused by natural disaster, malicious actor, or human error—causes an energy emergency. The road map will help Governors:

  • Understand state and federal legal authorities,
  • Learn about key decision points,
  • Identify when to execute formal and informal actions, and
  • Provide guidance on communication and coordination strategies.

Governor authorities and energy emergency response steps are typically documented in the state’s energy assurance plan. Governors can direct state energy officials to review and revise the state’s energy assurance plan to ensure the plan outlines appropriate authorities and suitable responsibilities and procedures for state personnel and external partners. For more guidance on state energy assurance planning, see the National Association for State Energy Official’s Energy Assurance Planning Resources (https://www.naseo.org/energyassurance).

States can leverage all or portions of the road map to guide state planning and policy development. This resource is supplementary to the state’s emergency response plan. States will find that the road map:

  • Helps contextualize energy emergencies and their consequences,
  • Outlines actions for Governors to consider when faced with an energy emergency, and
  • Provides appendices that include examples of past state executive orders and other Governor actions.

States, commonwealths, and territories are collectively referenced as “states” in this document.

How the road map was developed:

The road map reflects recommendations from past NGA work on energy security and emergency management. The idea for this road map originated from a NGA learning lab on enhancing state energy assurance coordination with six states, held in May 2015 in New Jersey. State participants at that meeting identified a need to learn more about the actions Governors could take during an energy emergency.

The National Governors Association (NGA) hosted an experts roundtable in April 2017 that included Governors’ energy advisors and homeland security advisors, state emergency managers, federal officials and private sector representatives to develop version 1.0 of the road map. During the roundtable, participants discussed the critical decision points that require Governors’ executive authority during an energy emergency. Participants also offered recommendations on strategies that Governors’ offices could take before, during and after an energy emergency. NGA published version 1.0 of the road map in July 2018.

NGA Work on Energy Security

Over the past decade, NGA has produced several aids to improve state energy security. Recent reports, guidance, and energy security updates can be found at NGA’s State Resource Center on Energy Security. Consistent guidance for Governors on energy security practices includes:

  • Developing relationships among a broad group of stakeholders, including the state energy office, homeland security office emergency management agency, public utility commission, state legislature, industry trade groups, and other state coordinative groups,
  • Identifying potential risks to infrastructure by conducting routine threat and risk assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities before an event occurs,
  • Updating energy assurance plans to reflect new threats and hazards and ensure that they align with the state emergency management plan,
  • Conducting trainings and exercises to ensure that existing plans are sufficient and all stakeholders understand their role in emergencies, and
  • Ensuring that internal and external communications are clear, consistent and contain up-to-date information. Communications should include actions tailored to the specific audience that will help the response and recovery run smoothly.


What is an energy emergency?

An energy emergency, such as an electrical grid outage, pipeline disruption, or fuel shortage, occurs when an actual or imminent severe energy supply interruption threatens the health, safety and well-being of a population. ‘Energy emergency’ for many states may be a specific designation. Governors have the authority to declare an energy emergency that is distinct from the state’s other options for declaring emergencies in at least 14 states. An energy emergency may be stand-alone or concurrent with a broader declared emergency such as a natural disaster (See Appendix D. Examples of Authorizing Legislation for Governor-Declared Energy Emergencies for details).

For more information on Governors’ powers and authority see: https://www.nga.org/governors/powers-and-authority/

What are the possible consequences of an energy emergency?

Each energy emergency is unique. Different consequences necessitate different gubernatorial action and the appropriate response to these considerations will scale based on the severity of the emergency. Table 1 provides a list of actions that Governors and their key advisors should consider:

  • These actions are listed by increasing severity and roughly correspond to an incident’s size and scope.
  • The table is not holistic; rather, it covers the most notable consequences. Because all events and emergencies are unique, NGA suggests using this table as a decision-making guide in conjunction with the recommendations of state and local authorities.

Table 1. Energy Emergency Response


Impact: Minor inconveniences to residents and businesses, but individuals are otherwise able to continue day-to-day life. The emergency response can be led and coordinated by local authorities with state support. Impacted residents or businesses expect resolution within a few hours. Examples include: isolated power outages; minor damage to pipelines.

Possible Consequences

  • Short-term disruptions of energy services (e.g. short brownouts, power outages)
  • Poor traffic conditions
  • Schools and businesses operating at reduced capacity
  • Adverse impacts on interdependent sectors and assets
  • Disadvantaged communities may face more significant impacts from small events

Possible Considerations

  • Monitoring conditions
  • Having sub-cabinet officials communicating with local authorities and the public
  • Engaging with private industry stakeholders including outreach to impacted energy service owners/operators
  • Ordering a “soft open” of the emergency operations facility
  • Reviewing of emergency plans
  • Ordering cabinet officials to communicate with local authorities and the public


Impact: Some disruption to residents and businesses that forces individuals to make significant alterations to their day-to-day lives or persists for an extended period of time. The emergency requires state leadership and coordination with local or private support. Residents are likely aware of the emergency but expect the situation to be resolved in the immediate future. Examples include: prolonged severe weather (for example, cold wave, heat wave); far-reaching technical or infrastructural failure; and coordinated cyberattacks that target noncritical infrastructure.

Possible Consequences

  • Critical services (for example, hospitals, police departments) reliant on fuel reserves or back-up generators
  • Public, commercial, industrial and school buildings temporarily closed due to lack of power
  • Residents report difficulties heating or cooling homes
  • Some environmental damage that complicates restoration
  • Crews deployed to remove debris or repair minor infrastructure damage
  • Fuel deliveries temporarily halted or reduced
  • Higher prices for gasoline and other liquid fuels or long lines at the gas station
  • Difficulty accessing cybernetworks on non-critical infrastructure
  • Severe traffic and gridlock that hinders response and restoration

Possible Considerations

  • Declaring a state of emergency
  • Having Governor’s office lead communication with the public
  • Fully opening emergency operations facility
  • Activating emergency contingency plans
  • Engaging with the federal government
  • Suspending fuel carrier rules on hours of service or cargo weight
  • Suspending other state regulations and statutes
  • Requesting waivers from the federal government
  • Facilitating restoration of service through debris removal, repair, etc.
  • Using mutual aid agreements and coordinating with industry partners
  • Activating the national guard


Impact: Severe disruption for residents and businesses that makes day-to-day life impossible. A heightened state of alarm may persist for weeks if not months. State resources may not be enough to resolve the disaster and federal support is likely needed. State residents are very aware of the emergency and do not know if/when their lives will return to normalcy. Examples include: systematic power grid failure; international incident; and catastrophic failure of energy safety mechanisms.

Possible Consequences

  • Most public, commercial, industrial and school buildings closed for an indeterminate period
  • Suppliers are unable to guarantee the continued flow of energy
  • Major price hikes in delivered energy, raw materials, and services
  • Significant environmental or infrastructural failure (for example, multiple pipeline service disruptions, leaks, backed-up sewage)
  • Providers unable to access networks due to coordinated or sophisticated cyber attack
  • Public unrest or panic
  • Problems reported nationally or internationally

Possible Considerations

  • Requesting federal aid
  • Coordinating resource allocation/distributing emergency resources
  • Signing supplementary purchasing contracts
  • Mandating reductions in state agency energy consumption
  • Requesting reductions in public energy consumption
  • Activating price gouging protections
  • Establishing fuel rationing or monitoring
  • Restricting the sale of energy resources
  • Restricting vehicle usage
  • Restricting hours and days of operation of public, commercial, industrial and school buildings
  • Deploying the national guard for facility security
  • Seizing energy supplies and other necessary resources
    Implementing evacuation/shelter in place plans

STEP 1: Outline the Governor’s Existing Authority

In advance of an emergency or declaration, state officials should outline the governor’s authority during an emergency, disaster, or energy emergency. This authority should be documented, updated and easy to access electronically and in hard copy for those in the governor’s office who may need it. Doing so facilitates any executive action needed to respond to and recover from the emergency. These authorities should be outlined in the state’s emergency response plans and energy assurance plans.


  • Cataloging the governor’s legal authority?
  • Identifying the legal, regulatory, and administrative policies in place that could slow down the response?
  • Establishing relationships with potential response partners, including utilities, federal agencies, and contractors?

Gubernatorial authority may include:

Declaration of emergency: A common tool that governors execute when the state experiences a natural or manmade event. Governors generally have discretion to issue emergency declarations for a period of time through specific statutory authorizations or constitutional powers.

  • Duration: Governors should be aware of the legal authorization in their state pertaining to the length and latitude of an emergency declaration, whether it be ongoing until rescinded, effective for a specific period unless extended, or valid only for a certain period and then requiring coordination with the legislative branch for subsequent action.
  • Legislature: In some states, legislatures can review, extend, or terminate a state of emergency or participate in subsequent gubernatorial extensions and otherwise modify the emergency declaration through concurrence votes or ratification of a Governor’s proposed extension.

Request for Federal Assistance: Governors can also request a federal emergency or disaster declaration under the Stafford Act to bring federal resources to bear on a declared state of emergency. Governors will coordinate with FEMA regional directors to develop a preliminary disaster assessment to support the request to the President for federal declaration.

Declaration of an energy emergency: A more specific tool that some Governors possess that focuses on the energy sector in the Governor’s authority rather than a traditional emergency declaration. Importantly, the statutory authorities for an energy emergency may be different for a standard state of emergency and, in some cases, more expansive. Much of this information will be codified in the state or territory’s energy assurance plan.

Typically, Governors will declare an energy emergency after the triggering event. However, they may have the authority to declare an emergency or request federal declaration of a major disaster before the event occurs if there is an imminent threat or impact to citizens (such as a major hurricane). The Governor can make this declaration to ensure that energy and emergency response personnel, equipment and goods are in place and ready to be deployed and to secure direct federal assistance or waivers. While state emergency declarations facilitate response and restoration, a Governor may have state statutory limits on the length of a declared emergency. In those cases, the Governor will need to engage other governmental branches if an extension is needed and the statute requires legislative or other approval. Energy and disaster declarations are useful to facilitate and streamline emergency response and avail the state to federal funding. However, where pertinent Governors may also balance considerations of potential negative responses or outcomes, such as whether public fuel panic purchasing may be exacerbated by the formal declaration of an emergency.

As part of their emergency preparations, Governors may wish to conduct an assessment of their current emergency powers in the context of an energy emergency. As necessary, Governors can bolster their responses to energy emergencies in the following ways:

  • Propose legislation for new energy-specific powers,
  • Establish processes for activating relevant authorities in response to an energy emergency, and
  • Coordinate with emergency managers to ensure clear lines of authority and responsibility during energy emergencies.

Governors should also understand the level to which emergency or energy emergency response depends on coordination with and action from other jurisdictions and the private sector:

Federal government: For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies may waive certain regulations and in the event of a state emergency declaration, such as hours of service (HOS) and safety waivers for trucking governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Officials should know how state and federal emergency declarations affect regulations to maximize their recovery capacity.

Private sector and utility companies: Utilities often depend on their peers across the country connected through mutual aid agreements. Under those agreements, utilities share trucks, work crews and equipment with one another to more rapidly recover from outages. For larger response events, work crews and equipment are often required to drive across state boundaries.

Neighboring states: Governors should understand how neighboring states will respond during an emergency declaration and whether they can work with their peers to create agreements that facilitate industry and governmental response. If an emergency has been declared and certain restrictions are waived within a state, that waiver’s authority may end at the state’s border. Restrictions may still be in place in neighboring states that limit the ability of crews to move and respond. In addition, a state of emergency that the federal government or another state government declares may waive some restrictions in unaffected states for motor carriers and work crews traveling interstate in response to the emergency. Governors should be familiar with and enforce those exemptions to expedite response and recovery efforts in other jurisdictions. Emergency management and state police should coordinate with neighboring jurisdictions, national coordination mechanisms, and local law enforcement to communicate regulatory waivers and other actions to expedite response.

Building relationships in advance, including developing robust contact lists for the key state, local, federal, and energy sector partners who may need to be called upon during an emergency, can improve and accelerate energy emergency response and restoration.

Collaborative emergency response exercises, whether held at the state level or nationally with the federal government or energy sector, can be effective tools to assess planning, emergency authority, and coordination gaps and ensure the state and its partners are prepared for a potential energy emergency.


Declaration of Emergency

Depending on the type of incident, more than one type of emergency declaration may be appropriate, such as an energy emergency declaration alongside a public health emergency declaration. During an extended public health emergency, Governors may need to ensure that adequate declaration provisions are in place to sustain energy supply and emergency response abilities, such as exempting essential energy-sector employees from certain travel restrictions and prioritizing protective equipment for those employees.

Suspension of utility disconnections

Governors may have the authority to prohibit utilities from disconnecting customers or issuing fees for late payment during a public health emergency, as was done in at least 33 states during the COVID-19 pandemic. The legal provision triggering the appropriate deployment of such a moratorium might differ based on the nature of the emergency and/or statutory framework.
More than thirty states also have annual, date- or temperature-bounded winter moratoriums, with some rules contingent on some customer circumstances such as financial hardship, elderly status, medical necessity, or enrollment in a payment plan.

Designation of energy sector workers as essential personnel

Governors can designate certain energy and utility workers as essential or critical employees to facilitate their ability to work, travel, and prioritize them for access to essential resources like personal protective equipment, testing and vaccinations when health or other emergency restrictions are in place. If federal guidance is available through agencies like DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and DOE Office of Cybersecurity,
Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER), Governors may, at their discretion, elect to align with that guidance.

Understanding the impact of federal actions

Governors may also coordinate with state agencies to administer and promote federal assistance funds such as expanded relief available to the public or energy sector partners such as through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP.)

STEP 2: Identify the Scope and Scale of the Event

The scope and scale of an emergency will dictate the response required. Governors, in coordination with the state’s emergency management authorities, legal counsel, state energy officials, and utility regulators, should determine whom on their staff and within industry and the federal government to convene to adequately respond to the emergency and work with those individuals to understand:


  • Identifying which statutes will require waivers to support the response and recovery?
  • Identifying any gaps the state has that will require additional external support?
  • Developing a restoration prioritization list and socializing that list to the appropriate parties?

Consequences of the emergency: What is the impact? Was the impact limited to the electric or fuels sector, or were there cascading effects in other sectors? Has infrastructure been compromised that will hinder recovery efforts?

Geographic impact: How widespread is the emergency? Is it limited to one utility service territory or several? Can the state map the affected critical assets and layer those geographic data over utility outage data? Does the outage cross state lines? If so, will the state be competing with other states for resources?

Affected population: Whom does the energy emergency affect? Are the customers primarily in the residential sector, the commercial sector, or a combination? Does the event affect multiple utilities, and if so, how many and to what degree? Are neighboring states affected? What are the critical, lifeline assets affected, and what impact will their outages have on the health and safety of residents, in particular disadvantaged populations?

Outage duration: How long will the energy emergency last? Will power be out for hours, days, weeks, or longer? Is there sufficient access to backup generation? Do backup generators have an adequate stock of fuel to continue to operate throughout the duration of the outage? Can other utilities, such as water, wastewater and telecommunications, continue to operate through the outage? Which private sector entities need to be engaged to estimate the duration and impacts of the outage resulting from the event? Depending on the duration of the emergency, what powers does the Governor have to implement restoration actions after the event?

When the scope, scale and recovery needs of the emergency have been determined, it is critical to assess the existing regulations and restrictions that will impede recovery and response efforts and consider the following actions:

Transportation Actions
» Suspension of carrier rules (for example, HOS, road weight restrictions, the need to stop at weigh stations)

» Toll waivers for utility and emergency response crews

» Access and credentialing:

  • Site access restrictions
  • Volunteer access and credentials
  • Out-of-state access and credentials
  • Equipment and supply access

Economic Actions

» Fuel rationing:

  • Priority access for emergency personnel and utility crews
  • Rationing for the public in times of shortage

» Seizure of or regulation of critical energy emergency response supplies such as fuel stocks or infrastructure or personal protective equipment and appropriate compensation for actions constituting a taking

» Protections against price gouging

Environmental Actions

» Pollution control regulations:

  • By waiving certain fuel standards, the federal government can ensure that an adequate supply of fuel is available, especially for emergency operations and the lifeline sectors.[ 8 ] Governors should consider any risks or potential unintended consequences associated with a given waiver to ensure the waiver issued or requested suitably balances response facilitation and risk protection.
  • Additional pollution control regulations:
  • Suspend permitting and other restrictions for air emissions and wastewater discharge.
    • –Suspend inspections of retail fueling stations


Additional waiver requests or suspension of procedures, regulations, and restrictions to facilitate energy response and restoration during a public health emergency

Depending on the type of incident, more than one type of emergency declaration may be appropriate, such as an energy emergency declaration alongside a public health emergency declaration. During an extended public health emergency, Governors may need to ensure that adequate declaration provisions are in place to sustain energy supply and emergency response abilities, such as exempting essential energy-sector employees from certain travel restrictions and prioritizing protective equipment for those employees.

Scope of concurrent energy and health emergencies

Have critical infrastructure workers been quarantined or become ill? Which critical public health facilities and assets (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes, and emergency shelters) are affected by the energy outage and require prioritized restoration? Will worker impacts impede the operation of critical energy equipment?

Public health resource needs

Which resources need to be prioritized for essential energy and utility workers? Will those workers need prioritized access to PPE, testing, or vaccinations? highly specialized job functions that must be performed in person (e.g., generator control room operators) that will need prioritized access to testing, equipment, and vaccines.

Regulatory taking of critical response supplies

Is there a scarcity of critical response supplies the state must garnish and compensate as a regulatory taking?

STEP 3: Determine the Execution of Actions

When the preliminary scope, scale and nature of the event have been determined, Governors can work with their staff, federal government, and industry to determine a response. These actions, such as fuel and permit waivers, may include movement of people and goods; transportation of restoration and recovery equipment; allowance of adverse environmental impacts that may not otherwise be tolerable; and the deployment of communications, emergency response and other support services.


  • Developing executive order templates?
  • Implementing feedback mechanisms to share information with local governments so that they can stay abreast of the situation?

Governors have a few options for how to act in the event of an energy emergency:

Formal action:

  • Declare a state of emergency or an energy emergency (if the Governor has that authority).
  • Activate State Emergency Operations Center.
  • Issue an executive order, proclamation or other, equivalent executive directive.
  • Issue related response-enabling executive orders like suspensions of identified economic, environmental or transportation regulations as described in Step Two.
  • Request federal assistance if needed. If a Governor requests a federal emergency declaration to unlock federal resources under the Stafford Act, FEMA requires a damage assessment outlining the nature and extent of state resource exhaustion.

Informal action:

  • Partially or “soft” open an emergency operations center so personnel can monitor conditions in a partially activated state, even if a full emergency declaration has not yet been issued.
  • Issue public service announcements.
  • Work with unaffected states or establish interstate coordination including to ensure energy workers have sufficient credentials or waivers to travel freely, access necessary facilities, and assist in restoration without interruption.
  • Leverage relationships with state officials, other Governors, businesses, etc.
  • Work with the media to provide timely public updates and guidance. Coordinate public messaging with industry.
  • Delegate responsibility to state agencies.

No action:

  • Although this road map focuses heavily on Governors’ use of executive action, some events may not warrant an emergency declaration.
  • In this instance, Governors should continue to monitor the situation and determine whether they need to reevaluate the state’s role in response and recovery if the circumstances change.

DOE Energy Waiver Library

During energy emergencies, alleviating regulatory restrictions through waivers can expedite response and restoration and avoid delays. Temporarily forgoing enforcement of certain safety, environmental and statutory requirements, when appropriate, can accelerate response efforts, restoring power and moving fuel more quickly to affected citizens. The Department of Energy’s Energy Waiver Library gathers, categorizes, and illustrates energy sector waivers of regulation and standards from across six granting agencies. The library clarifies special permits or waived enforcement of requirements for generation, fuel use, fuel transportation and distribution, and clean up and event recovery. This central location includes background on the energy response waiver or special permit, examples of past use, links to previously issued waivers, and an appropriate point of contact from whom to request such waivers should the need arise. Access the Energy Waiver Library at: https://www.energy.gov/ceser/energy-waiver-library


Implement public health safety protocols for the state emergency operations center (EOC)

If a public health emergency necessitates avoiding in-person contact then activate the EOC virtually while ensuring staff have necessary equipment to fulfill their functions. Governors may consider acquiring a software
to support the activation of a virtual EOC to support interconnectivity of remote staff. Ensure there are defined protocols in place for remote EOC access and protective health measures for in-person gathering such as sanitation.

Re-evaluate continuity of operations protocols

Governors may facilitate improved energy emergency response by initiating reviews and updates to state continuity of operations protocols to account for remote work, testing, worker impacts from illness or quarantines, and other potential impacts to energy emergency response caused by a simultaneous public health emergency.

Review and address any public health restrictions that may impede utility response

Are there temporary rules or restrictions in place to manage a separate concurrent emergency that might affect energy emergency responders? Will stay-at-home orders, facility closures, or PPE requirements limit the ability of utility crews to respond to an energy emergency and restore services?

Evaluate energy sector access to protective equipment

Dialog with state energy regulatory agencies and energy industry to determine if essential energy sector personnel have sufficient access to needed medical testing, personal protective equipment, or medical treatments and vaccinations as needed and are adequately prioritized. Consider including a state energy official if the state establishes an inter-agency committee to identify public health resource needs and prioritization.

Procure personal protective equipment

Coordinate with state procurement and public health officials and to ensure essential energy worker protection when a health emergency strains the supply chain for personal protective equipment.

STEP 4: Coordinate and Communicate with Key Stakeholders

Coordinating activity across sectors and groups is a significant undertaking.

Governors will need to consider how to coordinate in several ways.

Federal–state coordination through FEMA regions and appropriate federal agencies, including between the Governor’s office and the designated federal emergency response energy-lead, DOE, the federal Emergency Support Function #12 (ESF-12) agency under the FEMA National Response Framework.


  • Developing a crisis communication protocol?
  • Identifying alternative communication methods in case traditional means are inoperable?
  • Sharing anticipated needs and priorities with partners, including the federal government, neighboring states, the private sector and nongovernmental organizations?

Interstate coordination through mutual aid agreements and waiver exemptions:

  • Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), which is a mutual aid agreement among the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that enables the sharing of personnel, equipment and commodities to states impacted by disasters.
    • — Governors have invoked the EMAC during major weather events such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in 2017, wildfires in 2020 and 2021, and Hurricane Ida in 2021, as well as in response to critical energy infrastructure incidents such as the Colonial Pipeline cybersecurity incident in 2021.
  • Energy Utility mutual assistance agreements facilitate service restoration by providing restoration workers and logistics coordination across utility service territories. These include:
    • Regional Mutual Assistance Groups (RMAG) are regional groups that coordinate mutual aid assistance among investor-owned electric utilities within an affected region.
    • — Mutual assistance for public power utilities is coordinated through the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Utilities Mutual Aid Regions. In addition, a national APPA and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) mutual aid agreement is in place for more than 2,000 public power and rural electric cooperative utilities.
    • — NRECA member electric cooperatives also coordinate mutual assistance through statewide cooperative associations.
    • — The natural gas sector coordinates mutual aid through the American Gas Association Mutual Assistance Program.
    • — The electric power and natural gas industries, collaborating through the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC), instituted a Cyber Mutual Assistance Program that facilitates the timely exchange of industry cybersecurity expertise in advance of or during a cyber-attack disrupting service. More than 170 energy companies participate, serving about 80 percent of U.S. electricity customers and 75 percent of domestic natural gas customers.
  • Work with unaffected and neighboring states to ensure they have the necessary transportation waivers in place to allow utility mutual assistance crews to quickly reach the affected state.
  • Intrastate coordination between state and local agencies as well as those agencies that are outside of emergency management, such as:
    • — State energy offices and utility regulators to coordinate with the electric sector, including the state ESF-12 lead, which is typically housed under the state energy office or public utility commission. Governors are advised to identify who their state’s ESF-12 lead is in advance of an emergency.
    • — State energy and homeland security agencies and advisors to respond to energy events threatening state security, such as cyberattacks against critical infrastructure.
    • — State departments responsible for weights and measures, as they may have information about transportation fuel availability,
    • — State environment departments to issue fuel and other relevant waivers,
    • — State departments of transportation to issue or request transportation waivers, including temporarily lifting toll and weigh station requirements for responding utility crews.
  • Ensure that transportation waivers are left in place long enough to allow work crews providing mutual assistance to return.
  • Private sector coordination, including energy and utility companies. Work with critical facilities and infrastructure operators to assess and address backup generation and restoration needs.
  • Non-governmental coordination (for example, volunteers.)

Create a communications plan

Communication is key to ensuring that the public and all parties involved are aware of the current state of affairs.

Governors should incorporate the following components into any energy emergency public communications plans:

Identify communication methods:

  • Identify a clear communication chain that includes the energy sector for any message coordination needs.
  • Identify communications technologies that can operate reliably in the event of an energy emergency, including backup technologies.

Tailor the message that Governors or their representatives send to stakeholders:

  • Coordinate and unify the message with the private sector and the federal government.
  • Ensure that information provided aligns with public records laws and does not disclose sensitive critical energy infrastructure information (CEII.) For more information about protections for CEII, see: https://www.nga.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/CEII-Paper-June-2019-Revised.pdf

Spread the message:

  • Leverage the state’s Joint Information Center to coordinate public and media messaging.
  • Use social media and trusted local organizations such as NGOs and community partners to communicate publicly and combat misinformation.
  • Use a combination of digital and traditional communications methods to ensure that those without broadband service receive important communications.
  • Issue communications in multiple languages to keep them broadly accessible.


Intrastate Coordination

Are the Governor and state energy officials coordinating with public health officials to ensure essential energy sector personnel have sufficient access to equipment, testing and vaccinations? Governors and state energy officials can communicate with industry sector entities and responders to target resources optimally.

Public Communication

Is utility access to homes or businesses needed for energy restoration? If so, Governors can message accordingly to the public with guidance on safe interaction with crews, facility access, and navigation of damaged infrastructure assets. Governors may consider whether additional messaging is needed to advise the public on restoration activities, shelter-in-place, evacuation, and emergency sheltering directives during a concurrent energy and public health emergency.

Logistical Sheltering and Resources for Emergency and Utility Assistance Crews

Do energy restoration crews need short-term or extended shelter, food, or other resources? How can the state partner with industry responders or otherwise facilitate and accommodate their logistical needs, especially in situations where hotels, restaurants, or public amenities like restrooms are closed due to a public health emergency?


Appendix A – Example Executive Orders

Appendix B – List of Notable Executive Orders

Appendix C – Example Federal Regulation Exemption Request Waivers

Appendix D – Examples of Authorizing Legislation for Governor-Declared Energy Emergencies

Appendix E - Energy Emergency Response Complications from Coincident Public Health State of Emergency

Additional Resources


Partner Organizatios

Federal Government


Dan Lauf
Program Director, Energy
NGA Center for Best Practices

Michelle Woods
Program Director, Homeland Security
NGA Center for Best Practices

Timothy Schoonhoven
Former Policy Analyst, Energy
NGA Center for Best Practices

Jeff Locke
Former Program Director, Legal Counsels
NGA Center for Best Practices


The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) thanks the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, & Emergency Response for its support of this publication. The NGA Center thanks participants in the NGA Center’s Experts Roundtable on Governors’ Executive Authority During Energy Emergencies and the many state officials who shared information, provided examples, and took the time to review this road map.

The authors of this publication thank Brandi Martin and Jason Pazirandeh of the U.S. Department of Energy, Martha Duggan of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Kimberly Denbow and Katie Tomarchio of the American Gas Association, William McCurry of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Kristen Verclas and Campbell Delahoyde of the National Association of State Energy Officials, and Dan Shea of National Conference of State Legislatures for their content review and input. The authors thank NGA colleagues Tim Blute, Carl Amritt, David Engleman, and Mary Catherine Ott for their important contributions. The authors of the first edition of this publication also included former NGA staff Andrew Kambour, Alisha Powell, and Michael Garcia.

This material is based upon work supported by the Department of Energy under Award Number(s) DE- OE0000817. This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government.

Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.