Abstract

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the key federal agency that responds to natural disasters in the United States (U.S.), yet it has come under great scrutiny for several prolonged- and poorly-coordinated efforts in disaster response and recovery. The increasing frequency and severity of major natural disasters in the U.S. now presents new challenges for emergency preparedness and response teams. This has led to several cases where FEMA’s relief efforts were severely limited due to a lack of electricity during a disaster’s aftermath. To mitigate such circumstances, micro-grids offer value by disconnecting from the centralized electricity grid and operating autonomously, allowing hospitals, military bases, and other key emergency response related facilities to get back online quickly. This article examines how micro-grids can increase distributed generation (e.g., solar photovoltaics and wind), which, in turn, can improve grid resiliency and operations during disasters. Overall, if implemented correctly, the emergence of micro-grid technology could improve and expedite FEMA’s responsiveness to substantial disasters by keeping the power on, as well as allowing local communities to meet the unknown energy needs of the future.
Full Paper
Gilbert Michaud
Senior Research Associate

Dr. Gilbert Michaud is a Senior Research Fellow at gLAWcal –Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development (United Kingdom). He is also an Assistant Professor of Practice at the George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University.

Summary

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the key federal agency that responds to natural disasters in the United States (U.S.), yet it has come under great scrutiny for several prolonged- and poorly-coordinated efforts in disaster response and recovery. The increasing frequency and severity of major natural disasters in the U.S. now presents new challenges for emergency preparedness and response teams. This has led to several cases where FEMA’s relief efforts were severely limited due to a lack of electricity during a disaster’s aftermath. To mitigate such circumstances, micro-grids offer value by disconnecting from the centralized electricity grid and operating autonomously, allowing hospitals, military bases, and other key emergency response related facilities to get back online quickly. This article examines how micro-grids can increase distributed generation (e.g., solar photovoltaics and wind), which, in turn, can improve grid resiliency and operations during disasters. Overall, if implemented correctly, the emergence of micro-grid technology could improve and expedite FEMA’s responsiveness to substantial disasters by keeping the power on, as well as allowing local communities to meet the unknown energy needs of the future.

glawcal comments

articles