On Thursday, August 14th, 2003, North America's energy industry failed nearly 55 million people. A blackout, caused by cascading failures in our energy infrastructure, descended upon 8 U.S. states and Ontario. The blackout is believed to have caused 11 deaths and over $10 billion in losses to our economy.
Over 10 years on, the U.S. Department of Energy has worked with industry leaders to inquire, explore, and develop policy that strengthens our energy infrastructure against such widespread failure. These policies have improved management systems, maintenance and redundancy.
However, do we feel confident that the industry as a whole has truly optimized the process of developing greater resilience? If we look at development and innovation techniques in software, pharmaceuticals, and other cutting-edge industries, we will see that they are increasingly using 1) open-source development and 2) continuous learning.
We therefore propose a publicly available, national registry of energy infrastructure projects. Rather than being a 'big' data project, this is in fact a 'clear' data project. If we have standards for reporting and describing infrastructure projects, we'll have an opportunity to innovate and optimize our resiliency efforts.
This proposal addresses the first step in developing a national registry: developing standards for reporting on energy infrastructure projects. Project reporting standards would help:
1. Standardize classifications, terminology and taxonomy of industry development efforts;
2. Identify and communicate potentially complementary (or redundant) efforts;
3. Provide benchmarking and leading practice information that will benefit all infrastructure and infrastructure management projects in the industry.
We believe we have a stronger infrastructure than we did 10 years ago. However, every dollar spent on capital improvements and maintenance counts. And far more is at stake for our nation's economic recovery. We need confidence that our infrastructure will continue to support our demand far into the future, at any level of economic activity. Let's invest in a information sharing tool that allows the energy industry to be as innovative, open, and self-evaluating as possible. Our future depends upon it.