Utility asset management is an undeniable challenge. Not only are most utility assets expensive and challenging to replace, but utility companies also face a great deal of pressure from both customers and regulatory bodies to keep those assets in continual working order.
Even short power outages can cost utility companies millions of dollars in lost revenue, regardless of the real time involved. In addition, customer loyalty and confidence lag very quickly if they do not enjoy reliable power.
As a result, utility companies must look for innovative means to streamline the operations and maintenance of those assets. One essential way is to have a strong utility asset performance management program. A robust program will lead to improved asset management and allow you to conduct preventative maintenance on utility assets, reducing the number of power outages.
However, the best management practices walk a fine line between what is and what is not within the control of a utility operation. The company may have a schedule, but Mother Nature may have other plans. Extreme weather patterns have been known to do a lot of damage in an astonishingly short period.
A utility management program that uses data collection, combined with weather forecasting and predictive data modeling, can result in reduced costs for your company’s critical assets. It will also mitigate the number of power outages from bad weather events, essentially minimizing the risk posed by Mother Nature’s tantrums.
The right forecast with added analytics will benefit a utility operation by learning operations and maintenance inside and out. Storm Impact Analytics provides comprehensive machine learning to create accurate forecasts, so you can deploy the right resources to assets that are in danger of failing due to weather conditions.
This article will outline the impact of weather on a utility’s assets. It will also discuss how weather forecasting and predictive information can help your utility have faster restoration times.
Severe Weather – A Growing Problem
The reinsurance company, Munich Re, estimated the global cost of severe weather at approximately $210 billion in 2020, and utilities are not immune.
Experts recently estimated that each utility will incur $1.7 billion worth of damage by 2050.
Severe weather can range from blizzards to flooding, from hurricanes to wild fires. Any of these events could damage your company’s assets, and climate experts predict that extreme weather will increase in both frequency and severity.
Here are some quick facts on this growing problem:
- Power outages caused by the weather: 67%
- Major weather-related grid disruptions: 78%
- The frequency of significant outages has increased six-fold in the past 20 years
- Extreme weather losses have totaled $476 billion over the past decade.
Impact of Severe Weather
Here is a brief outline of some of these weather events and how they may impact your operations and management.
Heavy snowfall can knock out poles and power lines. Ice on power lines can bring service to a complete stop. Meanwhile, gusting wind can make line repairs incredibly costly, difficult, and uncomfortable for technicians.
Cold temperatures can shorten asset life cycles, specifically poles, and power lines, producing outages in real time due to “pole-bending” or the snapping of utility poles under the weight of ice. In addition, extreme cold often reduces site productivity.
Flooding and wind frequently damage facilities or underground assets, cause downed power lines or greatly affect asset condition.
Tornadoes have been known to cause structural damage to buildings, cause downed power lines, and otherwise reduce life cycles in critical assets.
Rainfall and Drought
Flooding may result in water or sewage saturation of utility holes, causing cables to rust and/or decompose over time. Corrosion is thought to cause cable failure or electrical current leakage, resulting in a power outage.
Drought conditions have been known to damage utility assets. Severe droughts have led to the contamination of surface and groundwater supplies, which, in turn, affects asset condition. Drought conditions can also hasten the appearance of signs of stress in poles or towers by cracking or leaning.
Wildfires have in the past destroyed and damaged utility assets. Damage can be caused by the wildfires themselves or damage during repair efforts to the utility equipment because of proximity to the fire.
Lightning strikes can fire equipment or produce electrical surges that may cause utility equipment failure.
Of course, a power utility company faces many other challenges during extreme weather events. From your customer’s increased expectations to regulatory requirements, it is safe to say that there are many things to juggle during severe weather.
What can help your company manage this process more efficiently? How can your company attain improved asset management? The key lies in having accurate data that is applied correctly.
Weather Forecasting to Mitigate Risk
While utilities cannot entirely avoid the costs associated with extreme weather events, they can make an effort to minimize those costs by using weather forecasting to aid in managing assets.
Many, if not all, utility companies include weather forecasting in their management practices to gain insights before and during a storm. For example, the use of historical weather data can help to determine whether assets are located in a high-risk area. If so, planning preventative measures and prioritizing repairs can be done in real-time with reduced costs.
If assets are damaged during an extreme weather event, managers can use real time location data for crews to restore service quickly after the storm has passed.
However, much more is needed. Operational intelligence and secure data collection are required to ensure a quick response and shorten outage times after a storm.
Your company needs to know how badly the weather may damage your critical assets and where. Planning to know what materials and resources will need to be in place is also key to reducing costs in the long term.
When you coordinate a response, including reaching out for assistance, time is valuable and limited.
How can power utilities improve this aspect of asset management?
The Solution – Storm Impact Analytics
Storm Impact Analytics is built on the DTN WeatherSentry® platform. It uses DTN proprietary forecasts and intersects them with comprehensive utility asset data collection. When a weather event occurs, Storm Impact Analytics is specifically designed to use your asset management data to reduce outage times and improve service.
Using this model, a utility can proactively map its service territory and uses historical outages to predict how your territory might be impacted by forecasted severe weather. This insight results in quicker restoration speeds and reduced costs. You can optimize your response, including enhancing customer communications and preparing for multiple scenarios.
Increasing situational awareness through data collection and analysis throughout the service territory will help clarify asset condition, as well as identify populations and facilities at risk for a particular upcoming weather event.
It is simply no longer enough to obtain weather forecasts. Instead, data collection must be transformed into actionable insights. Using predictive modeling, Storm Impact Analytics provides the operational intelligence to optimize your storm response.
Power up your response time – find out more about Storm Impact Analytics today.