grid operations; disaster recovery; powerline communication; smart grid

Real-time data helps utilities restore service after hurricanesHurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast as a category four storm with winds up to 130 miles per hour late in the evening Friday, August 25th.

Nueces Electric Cooperative, the only deregulated electric co-op in Texas and only one of a handful in the United States, reported that 45% of its customers had lost power—which left approximately 8,200 homes and businesses in the dark. By Sunday afternoon, less than 48 hours after landfall, crews had restored power to every customer—even those who had evacuated and were not at home to report an outage.

Utilising the Sensus FlexNet communications highway, utilities have access to real-time alerts on system-wide issues and outages. Further, its point-to-multipoint architecture offers a critical view of a utility’s infrastructure and provides strategic insights to organise and increase efficiencies in disaster relief efforts.

The FlexNet communication network provides a two-way communications highway that delivers data over a private network. The system has long been utilised by utilities to restore services and has played an integral part in disaster recovery efforts.

According to a relase by Sensus, "In 2012, Superstorm Sandy tested the true resiliency of the FlexNet system in Stafford Township and Seaside Heights, New Jersey. In response to the more than 2,260 homes damaged, these municipalities used FlexNet to prioritise relief initiatives."

While restoration efforts took weeks and required assistance from utility crews across the US and Canada, Stafford Township and Seaside Heights proactively assessed the data available and sent support to the most impacted areas, greatly improving disaster relief efficiencies across the service areas.