tv Hurricane Infrastructure Recovery Private Sector Officials Panel CSPAN November 7, 2017 4:39am-6:09am EST
>> thank you. thank you for inviting me to testify. my name is tom, the chairman, president and ceo of southwark company. the immediate past chairman of the institute, the association that represents all u.s. companies. i'm addressing is a cochair of the subsector courtney and counsel. we collaborate with their colleagues from public power utilities on the sec. please to address sapling to make infrastructure more smarter and resilient. 2017 hurricane season highlights the critical importance of cooperation and coordination
among utility companies, government and other key infrastructure to ensure fast, efficient recovery to customers. the electric sector faces threats to the energy grid. the risk mitigation strategies emphasizes -- approach. while this hearing is focused on storm response recovery, some parts in our companies do not build the energy grid or security responses to meet only one type of threat. we have to prepare for them all. whether man-made or natural. relating to the cyber physical security or combination of threats. whether or not a veritable part of the business in the aftermath of such events we work to
identify gaps and disseminate best practices. we strive to be better than we were yesterday and be better tomorrow than we were today. since super storm sandy the electric power industry we've worked to streamline efforts to improve preparation for and response to major threats that cause significant outages. benefits were visible as the industry and government worked and responded to the hurricane. there's no understandable urge to compare storms. each storm is different. the common thread is the need for resilient infrastructure, a plan for response and recovery
of the nature of our ability to respond. i like to underscore the importance of the esc c. during the most recent storms we held daily calls among impacted companies and officials to address critical issues such as identifying specialized equipment needs, removing flight restrictions for both manned and unmanned aircraft to assist with aerial damage assessment. and coordinate efforts with oil and natural gas, transportation, water and wastewater. energy secretary, rick perry was on every call. and was joined by other officials such as homeland security acting secretary. these were essential to address critical issues the reliability
and resiliency are paramount importance. customers expect fights to go on when they flip the switch. when power goes out customers expect it to be on soon. we continue to strive to meet these concerns. continuous enhancement of our industry government and the grits of the amazing what men and women who make the work day in and day out. her showing great leadership on preparedness and we look forward to working with you on this topic. i look forward to your question. >> and i would call upon mr. julio, the director of the water power authority who suffered devastation from two
hurricanes,. >> good day. my name is -- i'm executive director of the virgin island water authority. on behalf of the virgin islands a member of the 32nd legislative. thank you for the invitation to provide testimony on challenges facing the u.s. virgin islands on the passage of hurricanes or memory. in september 2017 they face to back to back category five hurricanes within two weeks. category five sustained winds more than a hundred 55 miles per hour. when sustained hundred 95 miles an hour, the facilities were
plain and simple, destroyed by catastrophic wins. that hurricane impact st. thomas and saint -- it suffered significant damage. st. thomas system had damage to 80%. st. john, 90%. two weeks later on tuesday september 19, hurricane maria cause damage to 60% of the transmission system on st. croix. they did not -- today, there approximately 536 lineman and other personnel restoring
infrastructure. with the assistant of fema cruise ships have been brought in to provide sleeping quarters since many hotels and guest houses are close after sustaining damage. by far, the biggest challenge i like to focus on this funding the daily operations. these hurricanes decimated the plans. we appreciate the systems that were damaged, one of our concerns is to meet expenses. since the hurricane events and says run able to provide electrical service about customers, revenues have dropped below 2 million a month. they have recurring expenses and
financing agreements they must pay. to address the shortfall they have gotten a community disaster loan. any support or assistance you can offer is appreciated. there is an urgent need to rebuild this transmission distribution system. to harden it to a point where it's resilient to windstorm. they believe it would reduce its poster hurricane power by undergoing the critical infrastructure honored using composite holes. they have to dress the grid. they had a proposed plan to get
a series of microgrids on each island. each grid would be a localized group that would work in tandem or disconnection to stand alone. the micro kid can function as its own power at this point. what a harden our system and make it more resilient. like to thank you for the opportunity to appear and i'd be happy to answer any question you would have on this matter. >> i heard what irma did not destroy irma did.
>> we call upon chet thompson. mr. thompson, you have five minutes. >> thank you for having me here today. when president and ceo of american fuel manufacturers. we represent the refining industries. we represent 120 refineries that's 98% of u.s. capacity. more than half is located along the gulf coast. hurricane harvey impacted us very hard. hurricane irma impacted largely in florida more importantly, combinations of hurricanes
harvey, and maria were devastating to the gulf coast. many impacted are part of our extended oil and gas families. our hearts and prayers go out to those and we stand by it will help any way we can. as a result, the subject of today's hearing is important. i wanna limit my time to three key points. first, the u.s. refining industry, we weather the storm well and prove to be resilient. this did not happen by accident. was a result of hard work and preparation. with the help of a dedicated workforce of federal and state first responders.
if you want to look at a storm to wreak the most impact it was harvey. it moved up the east coast, stalled over houston which is that epicenter of the refiner industries. attempt over 60 inches of rain in some areas. at its peak it next 24 refineries off-line. that's 25% of all capacity. next 60% down, that's 80% found in the gulf region. it had a significant impact on the fuel supply chain and shutdown ports and rail and gasoline stations. we cannot get products out of feed them.
this had potential to be catastrophic, and the income it wasn't. two weeks after harvey made landfall 20 of the 24 facilities restarted and they made substantial progress. this is not by accident. facilities were prepared and have provide learned from previous storms. our facilities develop more sophisticated preparedness plans, improved monitoring, elevated pumps and generators secured spare parts, we upgraded it systems to help locate employees and ensure they had assistance they needed. we came back online much faster than we did after prior storms.
federal and state response was significantly improved. one lesson we learned as we have to better coordinate with federal, state and local governments. we been working hard in that regard. the results and harvey were excellent. your constant before, during, and after the storms. it was most evident in the review and approval of fuel waivers on like in prior storms, helping us get fuel to where it was needed. our federal and state partners deserve kudos for these improvements. we could have better communication by our government to consumers about the fuel supply change for example. the government could help
explain timelines for bringing facilities back online and getting products to the distributors and marketers. it could help us to discourage panic by it. our companies will work with authorities to identify and apply lessons learned. although we fared well no doubt there will be things to learn and improve upon to make future responses better. we caution anyone to come to knee-jerk reactions or conclusions. thank you for my time and opportunity to speak. want to express our thanks and appreciation for our workforce and first responders. they deserve our appreciation. >> thank you.
we call upon max, the chief supply officer. you have five minutes. >> thank you. thank you for the opportunity to testify today on the retail community response efforts. my name is max, chief supply officer and chief financial officer. racetrack is a family-owned business. headquartered in georgia operating more than 450 convenience stores across 12 states and apply nearly 9000 team members. the season had a devastating effect, during hurricane harvey flooding damaged more than a quarter of the capacity and shutdown fuel pipelines. this puts strain on the supply,
hurricane irma led to a demand in florida. causing prices to rise sharply. margins of fuel sales range from two and 20 cents a retailers constantly react to supplying to me to make sure prices remain competitive. during that any severe weather event prices become volatile. when these unwelcome changes occur, retailers respond. due to infrastructure damage, inventories became strained leading to escalating wholesale prices. prices generally reflect rapid increase in the -- or potentially take loss by keeping
prices low and not covering the increased wholesale costs. despite this the fuel market was supported by the actions of both the federal and state government. they worked with us to deal with issues before, during and after the hurricanes. the governors of texas and florida held conference calls with industry and government stakeholders where they listen to concerns and rendered prompt assistance. in florida they rave restrictions for highways to help ensure that ports and escorts using the movement to the product. disaster response efforts spent many agencies with issues more than 30 waivers. a particular interest was the
waiver of hours for drivers providing assistance. that was the difference between getting fuel to our customers in a timely manner and not been able to supply them with the fuel needed. federal agencies also ease restrictions on the type of product retailers could sell. despite major disruptions, the impact on consumers and the economy was less the what occurred with hurricanes katrina and rita in 2005. the government worked with the private sector to respond appropriately. still important lessons to be learned. [inaudible] is the hurricanes approach, much
of the panic about fuel availability caused unnecessary pool on the available fuel supply. the panic lessened when information was shared with the public. bottleneck in that ports was a problem the government could've done more to alleviate. in the aftermath drivers found it difficult to get to affected areas quickly. racetrack believes the collaboration between the public and private sector is critical for the success response effort. were proud to have served the communities we operated. thank you for the opportunity to be here. >> would call upon the honorable -- you have five minutes in an
open statement. >> thank you. i had the privilege to serve the people of puerto rico senator of san juan. i currently practice law puerto rico. i think the subcommittee for the opportunity to discuss the energy challenges. i have personally suffered problems with lack of electricity for more than 40 days. it is destroying our economy and way of life. nobody is repairing the collapsed grids of puerto rico. most of the challenges to turn the lights back on are neither natural nor geographic.
they are man-made. the puerto rico power was already bankrupt, fragile and useless before hurricane maria made landfall. the grid was obsolete, lacking adequate maintenance. the recent whitefish debacle is a current -- of them as we evaluate options we must be alert about those who may try to profit off our people's misery. i did not take place from sam want to complain, i come with proposals. energy equals life. as most puerto ricans understo understood, the lack of a strong, resilient and strong system has the potential of
killing people. while working hard to turn the lights back on this is possible, policymakers must think long term. a plan to transform is the right course of action. technology and innovation are transforming the energy issue. but we must break free from the energy model. buy more and more customers are able to go with their grid in their homes and business. policymakers agree on several microgrids. for key government security and
health will help recovery efforts after future storms and hurricanes. [inaudible] we need to include microgrids as a mandate. however, a mandate to include microgrids will certainly help. they pointed out that this restricts them to build a grid the way it was. perhaps we can change it. the clap screwed cannot deal with the challenges that embraces renewable power. countless policymakers agree that just repairing it would be
a waste of taxpayers dollars. let's talk about -- the scandal is a bad example of the -- there were 300 million contract and with just two employees. the government required them to cancel the agreements. for 40 days after hurricane maria and hundreds of deaths later request for by public and private companies was the governing board? nobody really knows. i submit to you this whitefish business is very harmful.
quickly, on the 9 million debt congress must create a financial system solution. and continued oversight could help solve this problem. to finish up, most efficient way to solve this is by giving the appropriate resources to the independence and energy commission. it is key to our recovery. i propose the retaliation and the commission be given sole authority.
just wrap up, thank you for the opportunity, the people of puerto rico need to turn the lights back on but we also demand resources to create a new energy model for our island. our lives depend on it. thank you. >> we saved the best for last. final statement from kathy, vice president of national nurses united. >> good afternoon, and thank you for inviting national nurses to take part in this area. my name is catherine and i've been a registered nurse for 37 years i submit the testimony today on an and you behalf.
fifty nurses deployed with r&r and puerto rico among 300 skilled union members organize -- we appreciate you holding the hearing for lack of electricity is endangering people's lives in leading to preventable deaths and illness. i was the leader and for the healthcare teams on the deployment. i helped to organize nurses and teams. with a map of the island we tracked the health assessment of each evaluating the people had access to food, water and healthcare. their basic living conditions and medical need.
time and again we saw the lack of power they created new disasters. basic medical services were down and not fully functioning another's. an acute public health crisis has developed. without electricity people with chronic illnesses that refrigerate their medication. and luisa nurses worked with residents who had to put the bowl medicine and bowls of water to try to keep the life-saving medicine to use. pharmacies cannot refrigerate her medications either. they cannot access computer system which store orders, therefore, patients are scrambling to find doctors to give them to the pharmacies. many offices were close, partly because the grid is still down
and accessing generators and fuel was impossible. families sees cannot access information so patients are being asked to pay full price for medications. most people don't have cash, and if they had money in the bank they can't access it because the systems are also down. hospitals cannot function in full capacity. generators are prone to failure and hospitals cannot perform certain procedures or tests, one hospital we know they cannot perform mri as long as they relied only on generators. without reliable power these problems are amplified.
the simple act of purchasing food and water when available is near impossible. atms don't work, bank services that normally take minutes now take hours. the people puerto rico can't refrigerate and cook their food. access to food in rural communities are especially difficult, as long as there is no power people rely on relief organizations to provide food and water for them. electricity is needed to restore the functioning of water utilities. without clean running water nurses have witnessed the beginning of multiple outbreaks, including an animal born bacterial disease that can be fatal. there's problems accessing fema
aid. people cannot access the notices and eight application. for those able to apply their told necessary follow-up communication will be sent by text or e-mail. people don't have power right now, they won't receive follow-up. we urge congress to use oversight and authority to ensure fema and other agencies respond effectively. sonic septa but that citizens of the richest country on earth have been tonight necessary humanitarian aid and left to die. relieved to puerto rico must come in responsible measures that can build a sustainable energy future.
we cannot and must not forget the people puerto rico. thank you. >> thank you. and now questions from the members. my first questions are for you mr. thompson. have to say congratulations. i was there for hurricane act, is there for hurricane harvey, you guys came roaring back. congratulations for turning around so quickly. you guys did better preparing. i've heard with katrina, rita, like you learned how to keep things going where it's not at risk of some sort of breach.
i want you to talk about how you prepare this that's directly in the path of the storm like harvey to make sure you get it back online as quickly as possible. >> i address some of this in my opening remarks and our ability to weather the storm, it's her incredible workforce. we had thousands of people writing out these facilities there helping keep our facility above water and ready to go. matzoh preparation. been working on storm prep for years, working with doe and dhs. we took the lessons learned for prior storms. we hide in our infrastructure of an elevated what we could elevate.
then we could identify where the storm was going and identify where we had to bring the systems down. safety is number one responsibility. for those facilities where they realize they weren't going to be hit as hard they could remain they had to come up way down. i would advice and a lot of hard work and dedication and we cannot plot our employees enough. >> i know you have some leaks, for example, we have big tanks -- got so high was 5 feet every overcame the capability. . .
>> >> questions? i drive around for a week you could find gasoline sold they were shut down but my question is because of power? supply? for employees able to get to work so what is going on because you could find it but there were not up and running by the price gouging and so people were panicking. >> all the things
mentioned mr. vice chair is correct we rely upon those employees and like any good employer we are more concerned of their life at home to make sure they meet the needs of their family before they return to work. and due to electrical supply with the generators into the stores and there are some stores and those that tend not to go up but it is working hard because we have 50 your assets. so though long-term mentality is what the
consumer's need to work hard to do that. and destitutes be problems we have stores in the southeast area that have water with king source stores that were completely flooded in those that have yet to reopen the you have to assess the of assets. >> but what about those levied -- to levees that could be breached? so what about the of role in these disasters with the petrochemical industry? that is just not right to
do. so any idea about gas operations?. >> if we don't impact gas and oil in particular but there should be a comprehensive plan. and with that prior panel. so every utility work saugh lead utility in georgette and not just fema but also gema with the threat to set up by response regime how to provide the best benefit going forward. but i assume they take those things into account.
but from hurricane maria and actually send someone or is it closer to 900?. >> we were there from october 4th through 18th . so what the nurse's office is -- saw its outside a san one we were pretty much cut off from electricity, communications so if you ask me the death toll or do i believe if it is 51 verses 900 or
>> yes. basically the official is very superficial and misleading. and that they have told me my grandmother died. but put in the nursing home. others do not have electricity. there simply dying. how do you relate that to hurricane maria is very difficult to. but the death toll in my view is in the hundreds. >> even as we sit here.
[inaudible] >> as they said the testimony people are dying. not because of hurricane maria but they don't have electricity. >> i would agree without electricity your power there are stories where patients actually go to san one when the electricity is up in a plug in the neck the lasers to do the breathing treatments or the clinics where they have access to oxygen and use that throughout the day.
>>. >> it is great to have you here directing your questions with the electricity going now in atlanta georgia who would you call?. >> initially the power company but what is interesting in these storms they are fully empowered local federal government to get the lights on as fast as we can with a clear sense of a priority. i get it that puerto rico is an island and it is very
difficult and to be deployed by the 82nd airborne and they could parachute jump into those communities that don't have access but the military has to think of afghanistan one thing i wish it would have done more than anything this to lou deploy but the first panel that there was no request for help until five weeks later, that's not normal. you represent the sub sector coordinating council. >> we would argue this year that to focus on cyberwe
have added to that that notion of storm response with electric utility industry to reorganize the mutual assistance groups so now with that structure we bring together for the first time the enhanced collaboration natalie investor-owned utility responders of collaboration with the utility cooperative hand we participate in a series of restoration activity federal government and local and redo that interdependent with the industry's that you talked about in the last segment which is telecom. but we go beyond the notion to offer assistance for the
restoration of electrons and in houston and nothing to do with electricity. but within 20 minutes of the phone call resend pilots and drones to help identify where survivors baby. secondly for alabama power we have machinery that is able to operate with conditions. >> the break-in electric power authority is not involved in this group?. >>. >> that is essentially a municipal organization but the state of puerto rico forever reason elected to pursue a different path.
>> i am sure we will have the time to continue to look at that but believing in your testimony and i am sorry for that. i yield back. >> thank you very much. the more we hear directly is the more disturbing against. you can sense the old rage building over the power authority so are you surprised and what is used to appear here?. >> so there is the total
that with that specific mandate with the tax payer money it with the energy commission probe that are highly technical so you can bypass the authorities to get around the upper crow. >> we have to have that sense of urgency in there is a lot but that is the essence here so at least to begin in the fey lay the
groundwork to address the ineptitude of the porter rico electric power authority. we have the experts so does congress have the capacity to act with a sense of urgency knowing that the citizens are suffering?. >> i think you for being here and i yield back. >> the gentleman from mississippi. >>. >> thinking each of you to be here studying the of hurricanes we have had to deal with this season. i know you mentioned it is
more than just power or the restoration of powers of water and sewer issues. so can you tell us how the utility's response to hurricanes and other related the events how reliable those communication networks need to be?. >> the best example is katrina. it is talked-about new orleans and the dam but when katrina came through in mississippi every light was out so when you went in to try to restore that activity the streams were unrecognizable we could not even use gps to find our way
around so we have to have that interconnected effort between telekom and duchess of the with those sorts of disasters. and that strategy has our own dedicated telecom company called southern link to bring in those towers to set this up. because i am working within the context as it relates to puerto rico, early on the working with different parts of the economy to the island? personally donovan is the number two guy at at&t.
even never rise again. to link together the efforts. the between telekom and electricity we would provide every level of support if we ask for your not to try to get that situation rectified. if we will communicate with people in the field without telecom any way to communicate to get it back on it is absolutely critical. >> to provide assistance even though not requested by prepa?. >> i give kudos to the folks at fema they have done one heck of the job if i was on the floor and another that works and all of these
people have been champions to aid the the situation. >> that is right in the middle of the hurricane belt to have a long and a good track record after a hurricane. and helping your neighbors and others. >> we have a mantra to day better than yesterday tomorrow better than today we can always be better. we are accountable. with life and death matters are a stake. to restore hope to
communities. and the work to think what we can do better. we have demonstrated a much better -- better capability of working across new with that cross sector industry. those are particularly good things but we have heard of good technology with resiliency whether cybersecurity your protection from a physical standpoint. >> my time has expired i yield back. >>.
>> i wish i could claim that the thank you, mr. chairman. talk about production back on line after harvey. to sit there with the refinery with that show and a lot of those to understand you cannot turn the switch off and on to get them back up now that the price of gas is going down that the refineries are going back up. i know my constituents work to get that back up but so with the tanks we keep building them because olds of product so because of the
amount of the of water. but then with those refined products. and also getting 52 inches of rain anywhere you have a problem. and then to say you have to look at that. and to see engineering wise we don't repeat that problem. and on the texas gulf coast but we need to learn from our mistakes so toots' talk
about with those two companies they have to see what is going on. >> thanks for your remarks. >> we proved to be resilient we have installed a lot which is better for the environment to keep in a normal state of the missions. preparing for 60 inches of rain some did have some failures. and i can assure you this is the number one topic of conversation how to prevent this boeing for word pro.
>> so talk about how? these refining sectors come on line. >> bus certainly it came back on line more quickly with the refining industry. the petrochemical side we knocked out 60 percent of the national capacity to 75 percent of that has returned to the industry. some more under lots of water for those repairs that had to be made but we are well on our way and we're back up to full capacity soon. >> that is the price at the pump because prices went up
$0.30 a gallon. but at least in southeast texas may be a little higher than it was but it is not to dollars $0.49 but $2.19. >> certainly one thing i will point out the of pont has been reflected as well. >> we now call upon the commonwealth of west virginia. one sorry i am confused. >> you have been in the chair a long time. [laughter]
>> we have that national infrastructure advisory council with that communications to have those electric utilities could have dedicated spectrum space for crow what do you think?. >> there is a number of solutions. even to be provocative in the circumstances to have dedicated internet access. lot of things you need to clear a the way for. suez they lose faith in the government i can say without equivocation in response to the events energy secretary, one of the things we can do is clear the way to get the work done.
knows how to get stuff done as the supervisors. so when there are barriers so whatever barriers exist clear the way the government has been fabulous during harvey and irma in particular. >> i appreciate that. listening to your testimony i particularly liked the way you describe how you can interact with the full system in that you are successful in that because it is helpful in the
mountains and other regions. thank you for that. i appreciated your store commons. so i am just wondering soda for government to come in to spend a lot of money i hindustan but if we do so are you willing or will the government there or the utility will be willing to introduce some of these novel concepts like the micro grids and working on ways to use puerto rico as a land of experiments where we can try different things? they will lot of work but what we can do to make their grid better long term and
try some of these new ideas that are out there talked about for years and never had an opportunity for all of the tragedy taking place, for which i am very sorry. , we have an opportunity to do something better with they embrace that?. >> my proposal so to allocate the resources the you cannot do that alone but with that specific mandate to have these x amount of dollars.
problems is the semi regulated monopoly was a nonprofit and then to make at least some profit. and the time is over so i need to yield back. >>. >> you're recognized for five minutes. >>. >> so manchin now water and power authority with that varying infrastructure to make that more resilient? where do you receive those grants? and then to seek
additional areas additionally in looking at parts of st. thomas and st. croix. >> are they asking you to secure beyond that?. >> we are seeking to get medication grants and also looking to do some hardening of the system. so we need to have that feeling be resilient. >> and those have benefited greatly. is our turn to be called the poillon.
-- called upon to believe the efforts were paul?. >> to present those unique challenges to mobilizing the equipment but whether the specific reasons those would be resisted?. >> you testified the grid has limitations with renewable resources so what are the reasons for that?. >> that they cannot really
what about the lack of safe water?. >> we were there about two weeks in one of the things the nurses had to do is take a look at what kind of resources were available. so one of the things the of nurses saw is that with facts which came down and that disease was imminent and people were affected and it would be life threatening.
>> i also have seen some of assured by family members in my district and they cause great concern. into having serious discussion and with that critical ever structure. but i would also express that puerto rico can learn a great deal in response to the superstorm sandy situation. to understand the changes of that grid. end is very troublesome investment made at any level of government.
and to encourage that greeted for stronger energy future. >> into the neighbors to the north of oklahoma for five minutes. >> but the best thing is so we appreciate you guys coming up here to inform members of congress it is very important to have a working relationship in a situation like this it has been a long day and i appreciate your patience but i feel like we will continue to learn these lessons.
if you don't mind the physical work of the restoration falls on industry but what role does the federal government play play?. >> as i described earlier i think that in three levels and first is to harmonize the efforts of the federal government it is truly a public-private partnership in a super regional disaster. >> does that partnership and when the federal dollars are put in and so is that a partnership?. >> whether it is a disaster or not it is the playbook.
so to respond to national disasters so not only the unity of effort and that past to be who coordinated not only the electricity with the cyberwarfare is in the context of telecom and electricity. and transportation and water. >> don't forget the state and local government efforts. >> are we talking about financial support? all of
the above from the logistics' from the federal government to step out getting a the red tape out to let you go to work. >> you are right. somebody else mentioned the national infrastructure advisory council was a strategic coordinating council. so what we will do is bring the ceo's together in those representing the electricity sector with that legislative initiative and information sharing and physical coordination and. so also to inform policy
makers because there is so much noise around these kinds of disasters. we have to take action before they get your free just react. >> we have to pitch. not catch. >> that was thinking on your feet. >> that was to be more proactive. but to put together that committee. these are the roadblocks. so we can react faster.
>> this is to work together. >> and with the diesel and gasoline. is it ineffective for hopeful?. >>. >> in that it is getting fooled to beckons to lung negative fuel to the constituents we are transitioning from summer grade to winter grade gasoline on september 15 every year so because of the nature winter grade is less costly. with those inventories or a place holder.
to diminish that supply because in in many cases you will take that devaluation basically on the 16th. so from a federal perspective, let's get the data is that really only the date from the gasoline to allow that date to move from time to time? like those that are not forced of diminished inventories at a time when hurricanes are more likely to occur. >> that is a great point.