Facebook and Twitter can play vital role in electricity-natural gas disaster planning

11 Feb
Published by Enviroman

Generating electricity these days will increasingly depend on adequate and affordable supplies of natural gas. That's because electric power generators are using more natural gas then coal. Luckily, the U.S. has plenty of natural gas and most of it is on shore in shale formations. There is also a good network of pipelines to transport the gas where it is needed. That's the good news.

However, severe weather (freeze offs during the winter and hurricanes during the summer) and other problems can affect natural gas production and getting that gas to where it's needed. Federal and State energy officials grappled with this issue at a recent energy conference. Most were not happy with a test drive of their electricity-gas disaster planning efforts. We think U.S. regulators should use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as part of the solution just as their European counterparts have done.

AOL Energy described some of the problems that Federal and State officials encountered when they ran a desktop test of their disaster plan to cope with electricity and natural gas outages. Most participants thought that the electricity-natural gas plan was severely lacking. Our hats goes off to the participants for running the test, admitting the shortfalls and recognizing the increasing linkages between natural gas and a well run power system.

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Previously, we discussed how Facebook and Twitter could stabilize the power grid during disasters adversely impact critical energy infrastructure. Since then the Department of Homeland Security has determined that Twitter and Facebook will be used to alert citizens of Terror Alerts under certain circumstances. We still feel strongly about the role of social media sites in the energy industry. Facebook is approaching 1 billion users and Twitter has about 175 million registered users.

More specific to the electricity-natural gas disaster plan test run, Bloomberg News reported that social media sites were being used to disclose unplanned natural gas production outages aka "we are not producing gas."  Bloomberg said that  a large natural gas company Total U.K. is going to be using Facebook and Twitter for Energy Market Disclosure. Specifically Total SA, France’s biggest oil company, will use social media websites Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. to comply with European Union energy market disclosure rules at its U.K. exploration and production unit. Total SA said that “Facebook and Twitter will now be TOTAL E&P U.K.’s principal means of communicating information about unplanned production outages (24/7) under the new REMIT regulations. Total began using that method for communications as of Jan. 30 and hasn’t had an outage since then.

Previously, we discussed how Facebook and Twitter could stabilize the power grid during disasters adversely impact critical energy infrastructure. Since then the Department of Homeland Security has determined that Twitter and Facebook will be used to alert citizens of Terror Alerts under certain circumstances.