Severe Weather Isn’t Stopping for COVID-19 – Are Utilities Prepared?
On top of the challenges stemming from a global pandemic, many utilities are also facing annual severe weather threats. Hurricane season officially began on June 1, summer in North America means a greater likelihood of tornadoes in the Midwest and wildfires in the Western states. Restoring power after these events is critical. It’s a challenge made even more difficult by COVID-19. PDi2 supports the efforts of utilities working to restore power after the impacts of Hurricane Isaias and wishes everyone a safe and speedy restoration effort.
Increasing Frequency of Severe Weather Events
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has already predicted an “above-normal” hurricane season for 2020. And two months since the official start of the season, we’ve seen 13 named storms in the Atlantic and Pacific.
However, data from the NOAA reveals another alarming trend: the increasing frequency of severe weather events across the country. From 1980 to 1989, billion-dollar weather events occurred on an average of 2.9 per year. From 2010 to 2019 the yearly average increased to 11.9. As of July 8, 2020, there have already been 10 billion-dollar weather events. Severe weather isn’t stopping for COVID-19. What can utilities do to face the challenges of the “new normal”?
Preparation will be key to recovering quickly from immediate threats and withstanding future events. As Tom Kuhn, President of Edison Electric Institute writes, “We have rewritten our disaster-response playbook…and every step in the process…has been adapted for this new reality.”
Utilities should not only reevaluate their disaster-response playbook but should also consider how to build a more resilient power grid. One of the key methods by which to build this resilience is through grid hardening, or physically changing infrastructure to reduce its susceptibility to damage. Hardening the grid increases its durability and stability—making it better able to withstand the impacts of severe weather and reduce the personnel impacts of unexpected worldwide events like COVID-19.
Building a more resilient grid takes a multi-faceted approach based on data-driven decision making. Some utilities are already taking steps to build a stronger and smarter grid. PDi2’s Utility Infrastructure Resiliency Playbook outlines the steps for creating a resilience program and includes examples of how some utilities are already investing in programs to make their T&D systems more resilient. Download your free copy of the playbook today.