When you are in the eye of the storm, analytics can help minimize the damage

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When in the midst of severe weather season – hurricanes, thunderstorms, tornadoes – dealing with power outages becomes part of doing business. Kathy Ball, an executive at Devon Energy, and Mark Konya, a SAS utilities industry analyst, offer their insights about the best ways to minimize storm-related power outages and restore power quickly before, during and after a storm.

Top 3 ways analytics can help minimize storm related power outages

Within the utility industry, making sure customers (that would be you and I) have power at our houses, businesses and organizations is very important to the utilities and to customers. The top ways SAS analytics can help minimize storm related power outages and restore power faster, according to the panel above, fall into three categories:

  1. Before the Storm
  2. During the Storm
  3. After the Storm

Before the storm

Advanced analytics can be used prior to the storm in many ways.  One way is to help predict the storm's impact.  Let's say there are 6000 transformers in the projected path of a storm, advanced analytics can help identify the 4000 transformers that will most likely be impacted. They can also predict network impact, allocate the proper mix of additional staff to be deployed and even to optimize crew staging areas.

During the storm

During the storm advanced analytics can be applied to improve real-time communication with staff, customers, as well as regulators. They can help identify number of outages, concentration of outages, types of outages, prioritize power restoration efforts and even incorporate social media related information to complement their existing outage management system (OMS) that could help identify more outages or more dangerous situations needing faster responses.

After the storm

Finally, after the storm has passed advanced analytics can continue to improve communications with staff, customers, and regulators by using real-time information to improve return-to-service time accuracy and to dynamically schedule crews to reduce time customers are without power.   As a matter of fact, we saw a 14 percent improvement in restoring power using advanced analytics alone, but that wasn't enough. Kathy helped to develop a new patent-pending algorithm to improve the routing of restoration crews.   By combining the "normal" SAS advanced analytics with this new technique we saw a 22 percent improvement in the time to restore power.

For more details related to this topic please see Kathy and Mark's SAS Global forum paper: Weathering the Storm: Using Predictive Analytics to Minimize Utility Outages, join the SAS Utility Users Group (SUUG) and join the SUUG Linkedin group.

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Note: This post was originally published 7/3/2013 by David Pope, and updated and republished 8/25/2017 by David Pope. When this post was originally published, Ball was a SAS employee and Konya worked at Ameren Missouri. Albert Hopping and Jim Duarte of SAS also contributed to the paper.

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About Author

David Pope

Technical Leader, Manager US Energy

David leads the pre-sales technical team for SAS US Energy which solves business problems in the Oil & Gas and Utilities industries using advanced analytics. He earned a BS in Industry Engineering and a Computer Programming Certificate from North Carolina State University. Furthermore, he has over 25 years of business experience working with SAS across R&D, IT, Sales and Marketing in the Americas and Europe. He is an expert in working with data and producing insights through the use of analytics. David has presented at SAS Global Forum, the 2012 SAS Government Leadership Summit, IBM’s Information on Demand(IOD), EMC World, CTO Summit Conferences, and currently holds 10 patents for US in several countries: US, CA, Norway, UK, and China.

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