Forecast Accuracy Helps Power Utility Weather the Storm – Literally

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If you’re a power utility, you want to know what’s really going to happen with a predicted storm event, so your response crews and outage restoration teams can prepare responsibly for the impact on your service region. For that matter, if you’re a customer of a power utility, you also want that team to have the most accurate weather information available, to best serve your power needs.

In the case of now-legendary Hurricane Sandy in late October, 2012, utilities were hearing different landfall location and expected rainfall and wind speeds from different forecasting services. Unitil, a public utility holding company delivering natural gas and electricity throughout northern New England, was reminded during that benchmark storm that the right forecast service does, indeed, make a difference to its line crews and customers.

Unitil has relied on Schneider Electric’s top-rated weather forecasts for a number of years to support reliable power provision and trusted those forecasts again when Sandy threatened its service region. The utility also applied its unique rating system of Estimated Impact Indices (EII), which use 10 years of storm impact data related to its service territory to identify the severity of conditions it could expect with the storm predictions.

As a result, Unitil was able to procure the resources it needed to get customers back online as quickly as possible after the storm, including mobilization of 15 internal line crews, 92 contractor line crews, 37 contractor tree crews and 48 damage assessment crews, among others.

Restoration took us about three days, which is what we expected,” offered a utility spokesperson. “It all aligned with what the Schneider Electric forecast was telling us.”



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