Local Government Energy Assurance Planning

Best Practices: Portland OR

Portland, Oregon's Community-Wide Approach to Local Government Energy Assurance Planning

Portland's Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) successfully engaged the interest and attention of the community during its Local Government Energy Assurance Planning (LEAP) process. PBEM also worked closely with the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and the Mayor's office to broaden the scope of its LEAP to increase the community's sustainability and resilience during an energy emergency.

Portland's planning process enabled the concepts of energy assurance and sustainability to gain more momentum in the community, highlighting their interrelationship. The effort can serve as a model for other cities looking to engage their communities in similar efforts.

Well-known for its commitment to sustainability, a healthy environment and civic involvement, the City of Portland actively invited a wide range of public and private-sector organizations to participate in the city's energy assurance planning process. Portland identified key organizations and contacts to introduce energy assurance issues and to explain how their participation could increase the community's sustainability, energy security and resilience. More than 150 people from a wide variety of organizations were contacted and asked to participate.

Portland LEAP Quarterly Meeting, June 8, 2011.
Photo courtesy of Tricia Sears, PBEM.
Portland LEAP Table Top Exercise, Nov. 9, 2011.
Photo courtesy of Tricia Sears, PBEM.

Even though the process was time consuming, the 'contact-invite-meet' process helped PBEM include 60 members of the community on its LEAP committee.

These new members represented emergency management and response staff, other city departments, local non-profit organizations, environmental groups, sustainability planners, utility and pipeline representatives, local businesses, public health and medical professionals, industry representatives, other State and local agencies and schools.

Portland focused everyone's enthusiasm and ideas by setting up four subcommittees:

  • Steering Committee;
  • Neighborhoods and Small Businesses Committee;
  • Environment, Economy, and Alternative Energy Committee; and the
  • Industry, Response Agencies, and Utilities Committee.

These LEAP committees met quarterly and provided different perspectives and expertise on energy, environmental protection, sustainability, regulatory compliance and community livability. Committee members provided information included in Portland's final energy assurance plan, identified information gaps, and created and prioritized plans for obtaining additional information.

As a testament to Portland's strategy of inclusion, education, and outreach, 88 people attended the city's Table Top Exercise in November 2011 which focused on the State of Oregon's Fuel Allocation Program. Portland's community involvement element was so successful that members of the community not originally involved in the planning process asked to participate during the exercise.

Many committee members expressed interest in continuing the meetings even after the Portland LEAP is finalized in 2012. The Portland LEAP process has definitely increased community awareness on the importance of energy assurance, sustainability, energy security, and resilience.

The planning process has helped these important concepts gain momentum within the community, which will help Portland continue to strengthen its commitment to create and maintain a sustainable community.

Lessons Learned

Business-critical information can be acquired by simply bringing people together. For example, a corporation realized during a conversation that it did not have priority restoration from its utility — certainly a vital piece of information moving forward in energy planning.

Best Practice

Developing a website is a great way to easily share information with your energy assurance planning team.