One of the worst winter storms swept through Texas in recorded history during 2021, causing power outages to millions of people and businesses. According to McKinsey and Company, this catastrophic event led to Governor Abbot issuing a disaster declaration in 254 counties. 2020 and 2021 were two years that had the most named storms in history, with 30 and 27 named storms respectively.
From hurricanes, to devastating winter storms like those in Texas and increased weather activity throughout the country, the impacts of storms on energy infrastructures is far reaching. Managing these systems and monitoring and responding to a power crisis in real-time is highly complex. Utilities companies need to implement a flexible digital infrastructure to meet the many challenges they encounter when providing consistent and active services, and to be prepared to get services back up and running quickly in the case of a storm emergency.
Responding to New Energy Landscapes
The effects of climate change are significantly impacting the utilities industry. Frequent and severe weather conditions have pushed infrastructure capabilities to their limits, leading to power outages, lower efficiency, and higher costs.
Water, electric, and environmental regulatory environments are evolving. As a result, energy companies must reimagine maintenance and inspection goals and approach new solutions that give them greater control of their assets.
Implementing weather-resistant, mobile electrical structures like these modular e-houses that can accommodate almost any power structure could be one of the many solutions. The advantages provided by these e-houses, such as withstanding the elements while ensuring resistance to fire, explosions, and galvanic corrosion, seem to be in line with the requirements for outage prevention due to storms and other disasters. With that said, technological solutions can also come into the picture and help utilities provide immediate and timely services during emergencies.
Climate Change, Regulations, and Consumers
Amidst new climate and regulatory landscapes, utilities companies are faced with new consumer demands and behaviors that are changing alongside the digital world, like smart home environments and smartphone applications. Consumers are driven by personalized experiences that give them more control and data at their fingertips. Energy companies must deliver these experiences to keep pace with modern consumer needs for transparency and personalization.
Utilities companies should respond to climate change, regulatory environments, and consumer demands and generate value using new, innovative solutions that:
- Optimize operations
- Overcome the limitations of legacy systems
- Improve the customer experience
A utility company needs the right digital capabilities and solutions that help them more efficiently manage their operations while equipping the workforce with new digital tools that improve workflow processes and collaboration. Energy companies need real-time access to the right data to assess changing environments and instantaneously react and respond accordingly.
Utilities and the Impacts of Digital Technology
When the Texas power crisis occurred, harsh weather conditions were devastating. In the event that power outages occur, power grids and power lines are damaged, utilities companies require the capabilities to respond and restore power quickly.
Energy companies need customizable solutions that put their customers first and equip their employees with new capabilities to deliver and enhance services in a modern digital world. They must reimagine how they approach numerous business functions like asset management, workforce deployment, field workforce management, and vegetation management.
Assessing damage and quickly deploying field service crews helps energy companies restore power rapidly to their customers. EpochField, a solution from Epoch Solutions Group, enhances data collection workflows with tools that enable strategic planning, field data collection, and real-time analysis. It integrates operates with existing systems including outage management (OMS), work management (WMS), geographic information (GIS), and customer relationship management (CRM).
Innovative digital solutions like these improve damage assessment back-office functions. Teams utilize dashboards to provide a better view of to view outages, crew locations and work locations on a spatial map with integrated GPS tracking. Systems receive notifications when outages occur, and field crews are quickly deployed.
Also, scheduling optimization tools help utilities companies efficiently assemble and deploy large groups of field crews more accurately and efficiently. Field crews also use their mobile devices for online or offline work orders, sending and receiving information from the back office, electronically syncing data with the back-office enterprise systems. Any system user can create work order forms, document inspections, streamline maintenance, and demonstrate compliance to regulators.
Organizations need to prepare for today and tomorrow. Digital solutions from Epoch Solutions Group enhance utilities companies’ agility, resilience, and flexibility. Epoch Solutions Group drives innovation and opportunity with a technology platform that helps organizations respond to digital transformation, enhance operational efficiency, and overcome the challenges resulting from climate change, regulatory environments, and shifting consumer behaviors.
Digitize Your Utilities Operations
Schedule a demo today and discover how Epoch Solutions Group can help your energy company prepare for storm outages, the impacts of climate change, new regulatory landscapes, and changing consumer behaviors.