Every utility knows that power outages are unavoidable. However, your restoration process can be streamlined and made more efficient. If you have the right tools and strategies in place, it can be your time to shine when the lights go out.
Hours and even minutes shaved between the time your power goes out until it is restored will directly impact your local economy, the health and safety of the people you serve, and your customer’s satisfaction.
Storm Impact Analytics combines weather and non-weather intelligence to power the decisions that utilities must make. With actionable insights and accurate data, you can improve your power outage restoration strategy and keep your customers happy.
This post will outline some of the dangers caused by extended power outages, ways to reduce the time it takes to restore power, and how weather intelligence can make a difference.
Power outages – restoration matters
Power outages range from a few hours to several weeks. While having no power for a few hours is no more than an inconvenience (and an excuse to eat the ice cream in your freezer), prolonged outages present real and present dangers. Utilities must make decisions about power restoration, including which systems to work on first, where to deploy resources, and what type of equipment is needed.
Consider one example of the impact of power outages — the impact on the health of those in your service territory. For instance, in the United States, an estimated 366,619 electricity-dependent persons are residing at home. For that population, the speed at which you restore power is the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, even being prepared does not fully mitigate the risk, as some individuals have suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning from their emergency generators.
Consider too the economic impact of lengthy power outages. For example, the freeze and outage in Texas in early 2021 has been conservatively estimated to have cost the Texas economy between $80 –$130 billion in direct and indirect economic loss. Insured losses, which can be estimated more accurately, sit between $10 and $20 billion.
Of course, you must consider your utility’s reputation and position within the market. Today’s customer expects results and expects them immediately. Our fast-paced world has drastically reduced your consumer’s patience while you are working to restore their power.
Additionally, in an age of social media, consumers will broadcast any delay in restoring power to a larger audience than ever before. Therefore, protect your reputation by ensuring that your power restoration is as streamlined as possible.
Needless to say, a lot is at risk the longer the power is out. So how can you reduce the estimated restoration time it takes to get the lights back on?
Ways to prevent long outages
There are some practices and strategies that a utility can put in place to reduce the amount of time that the power is out.
Dealing with aging infrastructure is a real challenge for utilities. Capital investments are being made to modernize infrastructure and equipment that may be decades old.
New and modernized equipment can sustain the type of damage that comes with severe weather. By way of example, steel poles are replacing wooden ones, as they are better able to withstand high wind speeds.
Tree-trimming and removal
Too much vegetation around your equipment and power lines has the potential to make a bad situation even worse. By keeping a strict tree-trimming and removal schedule, you will be able to keep your equipment clear of debris. This will ensure that weather events, like high wind speeds, do not do more damage to your grid.
One step in your power outage restoration plan that you do not want to forget is regularly testing and maintaining your equipment.
You do not want to realize that you have a problem with your equipment during a severe weather event. However, by keeping up a prescribed schedule of preventative maintenance, your equipment will be in the best shape it can be to power your customers during power outage restoration.
Using weather intelligence to reduce outage times
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Forewarned is forearmed. The best defense is a good offense. These may all be cliches, but they are true, especially as they relate to restoring power.
The more you can be prepared for what severe weather event is heading your way, the quicker and more agile you will respond to it.
Therefore, having accurate weather intelligence will give you the insight to determine what kind of threats you may face and where specifically in your grid’s service territory you will face them.
Deploying your crews
Severe weather means that not only can your consumers face dangers, so can your employees. Knowing ahead of time what is on the horizon allows you the opportunity to prepare your staff correctly.
Additionally, since weather conditions may delay travel throughout your region, knowing where the storm will strike the fiercest will allow you to deploy your staff sooner. As a result, they will be able to begin their repairs and restore the power quickly and safely.
Mutual assistance and third-party contractors
You cannot do it alone, and you know you have other utilities that can help you. However, the amount of help available is finite. It can be competitive to secure mutual assistance, so the extra time you have could make the difference in whether or not you can access it.
How to plan ahead
Simply put: knowledge is power. Even more powerful is solid operational intelligence that you can use to make confident decisions quickly.
The ability to make decisions based on reliable, accurate data cannot be understated regarding power outages. Making those decisions before the storm arrives can make the difference between a minor inconvenience and a dangerous situation.
Storm Impact Analytics provides weather intelligence that is specifically tailored to your utility. In addition, factoring in non-weather intelligence, like asset records and vegetation information, allows our data models to predict what weather you face and how it will impact your grid.
Have confidence when preparing your response with Storm Impact Analytics. Find out today how to use this tool to power your utility.