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Coping with Extreme Weather Events

By Phill Feltham

How to optimize the entire outage lifecycle


The extreme weather just keeps coming. In 2012, there were 11 outages due to severe weather costing at least $1 billion. The year of 2013 had its share as well. More and more, the scale and variety of such major events are overloading legacy outage management systems, preventing utilities from meeting the expectations of external stakeholders and exposing the lack of accurate planning and extensible tools.

The resulting dissatisfaction among customers, politicians, and regulators is manifesting itself in legislative pushes to adjust regulatory frameworks and to create incentives and/or punitive measures based on management of outage events. The skies are cloudy indeed, but there is a strong shaft of sunlight breaking through in the form of technologies to drive improvement.

To avoid hefty penalties and to help ensure consistent revenue generation, utilities need to—and can—look toward a portfolio of technology applications to enhance the ability to plan and manage the entire outage lifecycle. This will require the continued convergence of operational and information technology as well as the use of new systems, processes and techniques to improve planning, resource mobilization, event management, stakeholder communications and post-event work.

The payoff is that the efficiencies and increase in service reliability that promise to result from such an effort have an immense potential to reflect positively and strongly on a utility’s bottom line.

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