Cover: Developing a Community-Led Certification Process for Facility Power Outage Resilience

Developing a Community-Led Certification Process for Facility Power Outage Resilience

Findings from a Massachusetts Pilot Study

Published Jun 8, 2022

by Liam Regan, Michael T. Wilson

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Research Questions

  1. What are definitions of community-scale power outage resilience?
  2. What are best practices and typical policy goals for resiliency certifications?
  3. Who are power outage resilience decisionmakers and stakeholders? How do they interact and share information?
  4. Which qualitative and quantitative resilience metrics best reflect the needs of community, utility, and governance stakeholders?
  5. How would a certification process work for participating communities?
  6. What are the opportunities and barriers for certification adoption and administration?

With an increase in the climate change–linked frequency and intensity of severe weather events that affect electric distribution infrastructure, there is an urgent need to define power outage resilience and identify methods to assess and certify whether and how planning actions and project implementations have made communities more resilient. Accordingly, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center initiated the Clean Energy and Resiliency (CLEAR) program to provide technical services to nine community sites in the commonwealth, which formed the basis of a convenience sample for this study. A RAND team—comprising Converge Strategies, XENDEE, and Ridgeline Energy Analytics—conducted stakeholder interviews and a literature review to articulate power outage resilience metrics, piloted a certification program, and used focus groups to assess pathways to the CLEAR program's operationalization and administration.

Key Findings

Policy Goals for Community Power Outage Resilience

  • Definitions of power outage resilience vary widely.
  • Qualitative and quantitative criteria are required for a comprehensive assessment of power outage resilience.
  • Community power outage resilience goals should address multiple dimensions.

Characteristics of the Utility-Customer Interface

  • Communities have varied power outage resilience expertise.
  • Utilities and customers have low tactical visibility into each other's decisionmaking.
  • There are novel resilience considerations for emergency response planning to address inequities arising from generation-to-outage path optimization procedures.

Power Outage Resilience Certification

  • Even partial completion increased broader community awareness of power outage resilience for and beyond the facility under certification.
  • Communities might need additional incentives for certification completion.
  • Even with technical services support, completing certification was demanding on time and resources absent additional programmatic support.

Research conducted by

This study was funded by MassCEC and conducted by the Community Health and Environmental Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.

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