Use weather data to make the grid resilient

by | May 19, 2022

We are facing an increased number of extreme weather events impacting public safety first and foremost and resulting in billion-dollar disasters. Tornadoes, hurricanes, freezes, and fires impact the ability of any utility to provide safe and reliable electricity to residential and commercial customers. Utilities cannot stop a tornado or a hurricane. And very few fires are started by utility operations. Utilities still must take preventative fire mitigation measures and can make overall operational decisions to lessen impact of weather events, extreme or not. And they are.

If you have data, you can begin to act.

Utilities are:

  • Inspecting their equipment more effectively
  • Installing insulated wire, fire-resistant poles, fast acting fuses, and other protective devices 
  • Managing hazardous trees and vegetation overall 
  • Installing wildfire cameras, backup batteries, utilizing drones
  • Installing weather stations and hiring meteorologists 

The bottleneck

All these initiatives require additional data processing and data sharing. Business processes need to be adjusted, created and they even become obsolete. Data can be obtained much faster than it can be processed moving bottle necks upstream all the way to the response teams at times. The business needs to catch up and utilize this data more effectively for decision making across departments.

The data needs to be orderly and kept that way

Yes, we at Xtensible believe in orderly data and standards. Utilities use standards. Daily. Imagine if you did not! Some are mature and well developed, others are mature, but may never reach a finale state, simply because our industry continues to evolve. One of those standards in our opinion may be the IEC CIM.

We were tasked by a utility to continue to build their data model based on IEC CIM to support weather and wildfire forecasts. Their data model was enhanced with additional fields such as elevation, humidity, and several wildfire related parameters to support future initiatives to build resiliency of the grid. Weather and wildfire analytics and reporting capabilities can now be made available to all consumers, both internal and external.

The underlying technology platform and visualization for weather data reporting can vary. The weather data model the Xtensible team provided, on the other hand, can support many technologies and platforms such as Oracle relational database and Hadoop. In other words, the data model itself is independent of underlying technology.

The business is catching up

Not only did we enhance the data model, but the utility recognized the need for the business to catch up. We worked jointly to review and then to revise and communicate adjusted business processes with associated responsibilities. The weather data initiative touched on departments such as operations, planning, maintenance and IT. We utilized the Xtensible Planning Methodology to integrated disparate plans and to align, integrate and sequence the initiative.

The methodology can look at high level disparate plans; should we install all weather stations now, or only some. Also allows for deep drill-down; where should we install insulated wire, fire-resistant poles? These questions, and others need a utility wide strategy. If people are not integrated data silos will remain, and efficiencies are lost.

Limiting Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS)

When there is a high risk of fire, utilities may temporarily shutoff power to a neighborhood. To limit the frequency and duration of these events, we are jointly building on the work already completed for weather and wildfire forecasts. Work to integrate with agencies and through interfacing with residents via expanding customer portals and issuing alerts.

“Expanding the IEC CIM model for weather and fire with a vision for future applications such as PSPS events builds on our previous work instead of making it obsolete.” says Shawn Hu, Principal Consultant at Xtensible.

Xtensible has the experience and knowledge to enhance your data model to include what is needed to support your resilience initiatives. This also includes being your spokesperson to expand on the IEC CIM for the benefit of all. Fast tracking your use of data.

Interested in learning more about using weather data to make the grid resilient or other topics? Speak to a member of the Xtensible team.