Operation Catfish: An Electricity Outage Tabletop Exercise and Workshop


Over two days in August 2022, TDEC OEP conducted Operation Catfish: Electricity Outage Tabletop Exercise and Workshop in Franklin, Tennessee. This regional exercise included 90 participants from eight states, including representation from all levels of government and the private sector. The workshop featured expert speakers who discussed how the electric grid works at all levels, from electricity generation to local delivery.

Other presentations focused on grid resilience energy projects, physical grid security, and hazard mitigation funding opportunities. U.S. DOE CESER, CISA, and the Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC) gave briefings on recent cyber incidents impacting the energy sector and discussed available federal and private resources to assist with cybersecurity. Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Tennessee Fusion Center provided briefs on potential physical threats to electrical infrastructure, while TVA’s Grid Manager provided an overview of their entire system.

State Energy Officials from Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin convened with federal, state, local government, and industry colleagues to discuss strengthening energy resiliency and emergency response to situations like power outages and cybersecurity threats. States identified agency roles and responsibilities, improved communication and coordination in the event of a fuel shortage, and developed response options for an extended power outage.

TEMA, TVA, and NASEO collaborated with TDEC OEP on the development of the Situational Manual, which is now available for other State Energy Offices and state emergency management agencies for duplication and reference. OEP collaborated with pipeline companies, local power companies, and the National Weather Service to validate the scenario’s technical aspects. The exercise scenario involved hypothetical severe winter weather, a bomb cyclone causing long-term power outages, and further complications from a “catfish”- based cyberattack impacting operations of a natural gas pipeline.

Please direct questions on the exercise and workshop to Ben Bolton, Senior Energy Programs Administrator, TDEC OEP, at Ben.Bolton@tn.gov or 615-306-5908.

By working together now, we become better prepared for the emergencies we face tomorrow.

– Ben Bolton, Senior Energy Programs Administrator, TDEC OEP

TDEC OEP Primary ESC facilitating Operation Catfish.
Operation Catfish participants during discussion report out.