Weathering the storm – How has it changed over the years?

Suppose a storm hits and thousands, maybe tens or even hundreds of thousands, are without power. The utility company is faced with a major power outage, thus a major emergency. What is it expected to do?

The answer, of course, is that it is expected to identify the problems, fix them, and restore power as soon as possible.

How well or poorly it performs, will determine when customers have their power restored – which, in turn, will determine whether they are happy with the utility company’s performance or screaming for heads to roll.

When an outage hits, utility companies are besieged by citizens, by politicians, by media, Public Utility Boards, all expecting that they perform immediately and flawlessly.

The demands are extraordinary. Overnight, its workforce has to grow exponentially – maybe to 10 times what it normally is. And day to day processes no longer work; not when the workforce is an army of outside people, all traveling with equipment, who have to, somehow:

  • Be pre-staged in advance of the incident (if at all possible)
  • Be provided food, housing and fuel
  • Have their work ongoingly managed (i.e. who is doing what, when are they doing it)
  • And, as the outage issue recedes, how to quickly and effectively release them.

The pressure borders on incredible. The room for error barely exists. The tolerance for error does not exist at all.

So how do utility companies go about addressing these demands? Specifically, how do they design an emergency response, identify where the problems are, figure out the crew logistics, strategize and implement a plan, then make it all work?

Things used to be much easier. In Grandma and Grandpa’s day, state of the art technology for predicting a storm was, essentially, looking up at the sky while holding a moistened finger to the wind. People’s expectations were much lower then.

But then technology took hold. We progressed to more accurate weather forecasting, and eventually satellites, which gave utilities a knowledge base they never had before. That was much better, but there still was plenty of room for improvement.

Like, for example, the computer age.

As computer technology was put to use for more and more applications, it stood to reason that, one day software would be developed to address utility outages. And that day is here.

Now, whether the cause is rain, snow, sleet, el Niño, a big nor’easter up New England way, or anything else, we have software tools which can monitor what is happening and manage the complex set of logistics necessary for a utility company to “weather the storm” as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The result? Faster identification of where the outages are, faster resolution of outage issues, and far greater capability to address crew logistics….which means faster restoration of power and happier customers.

All this without any need to look to the sky or wet our fingers.

Grandma and grandpa would be amazed. But, to tell the truth, so are we.

And there is little doubt that, excellent though they are, the software tools now being used to address these issues will continue to improve in the future.

Contact us today to know more on managing your emergency restorations

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *