Energy-Transport Sector Interdependence in Extreme Events: the Case of a Hurricane Event in Boston


Purpose of Review

This paper examines the governance challenges of intersectoral critical infrastructure interdependencies. Between 2015 and 2017, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) supported a team of researchers at Northeastern University and The Ohio State University to evaluate critical infrastructure interdependencies between the energy and transportation sectors in the context of a potential hurricane event in the Boston metro region. The paper reports on 2 years of semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders and infrastructure operators. The results provide insights gained from the interviews and a workshop convened jointly by Northeastern University, the Boston Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Recent Findings

Research relating to the resilience of interdependent critical infrastructure has proliferated in recent years. Nearly all of this research involves analysis of secondary data or abstracted operational models, rather than in-depth interviews of on-the-ground infrastructure owners and operators.


This paper identifies a number of important constraints that undermine critical infrastructure resilience. At its core, infrastructure resilience is less a question of managerial desire or skill, or technical resources or design, but is a larger institutional challenge. The institutional environment in which energy and transportation infrastructure operates ultimately informs and defines resilience efforts.

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The authors thank Steve Flynn, Matthias Ruth, Ramteen Sioshansi, Amir Mousavian, Peter Boynton, Warren Edwards, Connor Goddard, Christopher Grasso, Robin White, Aron Ezaz, The Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI) at the University of Illinois, and participants at the 2016 Interdependent Critical Infrastructure Hurricane Preparedness workshop at Northeastern University. The authors thank Sophie Anderson for her excellent work as research assistant.


This work was funded by the US Department of Homeland Security, Grant # 2015-ST-061-CIRC-01.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Noah Dormady.

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Conflict of Interest

Noah Dormady reports grants and personal fees from US Dept of Homeland Security (DHS) during the conduct of the study.

Ryan Ellis reports grants and personal fees from US Dept of Homeland Security (DHS) during the conduct of the study.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Disclaimer Statement

The findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this paper are the product of research by the authors and do not represent the views of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University, Northeastern University, the Global Resilience Institute, the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or any of the institutions or organizations that were engaged in the course of the research.

Additional information

This article is part of the Topical Collection on Energy Markets

Appendix. List of Participant Organizations

Appendix. List of Participant Organizations

Air Worldwide
Boston Planning and Development Agency
City of Boston Office of Emergency Management
Global Companies
Independent System Operators New England
Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
Massachusetts Department of Homeland Security
Massachusetts Department of Public Safety
Massachusetts Dept. of Energy Resources
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency
Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Massachusetts Petroleum Council/API
Massachusetts Port Authority
MassDOT Highway Operations
Meridian Institute
MIT Lincoln Laboratory
National Grid
NE Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association
Northeastern University
Reinauer Transportation Companies LLC
Swissport Fueling
The Ohio State University
The Wharton School
US Coast Guard
US Department of Homeland Security

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Dormady, N., Ellis, R. Energy-Transport Sector Interdependence in Extreme Events: the Case of a Hurricane Event in Boston. Curr Sustainable Renewable Energy Rep 5, 1–13 (2018).

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  • Resilience
  • Extreme events
  • Energy systems
  • Transportation systems
  • Critical infrastructure
  • Governance