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People who live in the Northeast are accustomed to wind, snow, and one or two Nor’easter storms per winter. Yet, in March 2018, four consecutive Nor’easters hit the coast within the span of three weeks, and a subsequent storm rolled in just as local utilities managed to restore power to those affected during the previous storm.
Changing weather patterns alter risk profiles
The increased frequency and ferocity of weather events represent the new normal. That means it is increasingly vital that the grid be robustly constructed and properly operated to be as resilient and reliable as possible. This is a challenge, as many utility transmission and distribution systems were designed decades ago and utilities are seeing their assets taxed by the mechanical stress of events that exceed these original, at times outdated, design standards. U.S. utilities understand this issue and are actively working to harden their systems against damage to prevent impairment and decrease the number and duration of outages. However, many customers are unaware of the extent of the issues and needs. As a result, this lack of understanding creates reluctance on the part of both customers and regulators to accept and approve investments.
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Gregg Edeson and Wei Du are energy and utilities experts at PA Consulting Group
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