3 WAYS TO STORM-READY YOUR INFRASTRUCTURE
Few things matter more to utilities than reliability and resilience of their power delivery. Which actions can power providers take to improve their capacity to prepare for and recover from outages?
#1. PLAN REALISTICALLY: FOCUS ON T&D INFRASTRUCTURE.
While it’s easy to understand why the prospect of malicious physical or cyber- attacks provoke much discussion, the reality is that most outages utilities face involve natural events damaging their transmission and distribution infrastructure. Weather-related power outages cost the U.S. economy $25 to $55 billion annually.
Improving the way we protect and replace T&D infrastructure can help. The December 2016 White House report National Electric Grid Security and Resilience Action Plan cited a national need to better identify infrastructure equipment requirements and dependencies during emergencies and set a one-year deadline for a “study identifying supply chain vulnerabilities during an electric grid emergency.”
#2. TO STOCKPILE OR RESTOCK? PREPARATION IS VITAL TO SMART RECOVERY.
Utilities must evaluate the condition of their existing infrastructure. The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) 2014 report, Before and After the Storm, recommends utilities “identify the most critical elements, the worst performing components, those units that have aged and weakened or those elements most in danger of failure and work to replace them with improved system designs such as composites, guying, stronger pole classes or relocation to name a few.”
Kits can help, and Hughes Brothers has been bundling structure kits for customers for many years – including everything from single pole distribution cross arm kits to massive 345kV H-frame kits. A complete recovery kit like Hughes’ can help here, too, since it includes items gathered from multiple providers into complete packages with everything needed to complete recovery.
#3. STAGING MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
Recovery from even a local outage requires complex management of workers and equipment; following a mass outage, the scenarios are even more challenging. The bundled approach can provide a vital improvement in both equipment and work management. Utilities can get complete storm kits delivered at each individual structure location – pole by pole, for example — on site, all staged and ready.
PREPAREDNESS AND RECOVERY: THE ONGOING NEED
It’s always going to be a priority for utilities to manage contingencies and enhance response and recovery abilities. It was a 1921 ice storm that propelled former construction contractor Hughes Brothers to mobilize to provide infrastructure beginning with power line hardware and crossarms, and eventually growing to more than 90,000 T&D infrastructure products. Since then, the need has only grown. “With an interconnected grid of over 450,000 miles of high voltage transmission lines (100 kV and higher), and over 55,000 substations (100 kV and larger), the targets of opportunity are endless,” writes Navigant’s Brian Harrell in “Protecting vital Electricity Infrastructure.”