Alabama Power smart grid technology reduces customer outages following Hurricane Ida

Alabama Power smart grid technology reduces customer outages following Hurricane Ida
Alabama Power crews had service restored in two days following Hurricane Ida. (Alabama NewsCenter staff)

Sixteen years to the day that Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Louisiana coast, Hurricane Ida made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. Ida’s 150-mph winds tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. mainland.

In Alabama, the storm affected more than 93,000 Alabama Power customers. Company crews worked diligently to restore power within two days for all customers who were able to receive service.

The company’s strategic investments in smart grid technology resulted in reducing the time customers were without power by almost 4 million minutes – and some of those affected were restored faster than ever before.

Ida’s heavy rains and high winds flattened homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi, flooded roads and spawned tornadoes across the South. Vital services like power and water were disrupted for millions amid the end-of-summer heat. In Louisiana, Ida downed transmission lines that left the entire city of New Orleans in the dark and the storm continued to deliver strong winds and heavy rains on its path inland over Mississippi and northwest Alabama into Tennessee and the Northeast.

Alabama Power’s advanced electric grid and power systems automatically got the lights back on for 12% of all affected customers and saved more than 2.5 million customer minutes of interruption.

Heavy rains and high winds often result in tree limbs and flying debris contacting power lines, causing electric short circuits or “faults” that result in outages and can damage the electric grid. Thanks to smart grid investments, Alabama Power systems can often isolate faults, automatically redirecting power and restoring service.

Following Hurricane Ida, automated applications identified the locations of more than 500 faults, helping direct crews to outages and reducing by 137 miles the distance crews needed to patrol. Because of the head start, technology helped reduce the duration of outages by 1.3 million minutes.

“Delivering reliable service for our customers is a top priority for our team,” said Melanie Miller, Power Delivery Technology manager for Alabama Power. “By leveraging technology, we’re able to keep the power on for as many customers as possible, using both automation and remote operation, during severe weather events.”

Alabama Power has been an industry leader in developing innovative technology solutions to enhance the security and automation of its electric grid. Fiber and automated devices, called reclosers, provide Alabama Power intel and data for optimal restoration during outage events. Because of this technology, and the knowledge and experience of Alabama Power employees and crews, the company can respond and restore power faster than ever.

And the advances don’t stop; the company continues to test and implement new grid technologies to better serve customers. To learn more about Alabama Power’s connectivity initiative, visit AlabamaPower.com/Fiber.

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