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Power outages in Silicon Valley: A persistent problem looking for an innovative solution

11th Feb, 20

If California were a sovereign nation, it would rank as the world's sixth-largest economy. This is mostly down to the fact that it is home to hundreds of technology start-ups and multi-national companies that are leading technology innovators and digital disruptors. However, even though it’s home to the world’s most thriving IT sector, there is a disruptive force that has been wreaking havoc in the state - power outages!

Recent events have shown that the situation for utility companies looks grim in 2020. According to NBC, approximately 65,000 customers in the San Francisco Bay Area lost power as a result of a powerful storm on 9th February 2020 that knocked down power lines and toppled trees in the region.

California saw the highest number of power outages in the USA in 2019 (source: 2019 Verisk wildfire risk analysis). This has had adverse effects on people’s lives and work. In an era where daily life is dependent on electricity, power outages cost people precious time and money. This is especially distressing in a region which is considered by many to be the nerve center of the world’s technological advancements.

*Source- https://www.bloomenergy.com/bloom-energy-outage-map

One of the prominent utility companies involved was PG&E, which has now agreed to pay potentially tens of millions of dollars to homes and businesses affected by its pre-mediated outages in October 2019. But even this landmark event has not changed the long-term plans of utility companies.

According to a new wildfire safety plan, PG&E filed with California last week, the utility company will continue planned blackouts of areas where it fears broken or malfunctioning equipment could spark fires, although it claims the rounds of blackouts won’t be as bad in 2020.

Preventing power outages: Giving technology a chance

The only way for utility companies to combat these risks is to ensure that vegetation is kept at bay from their transmission and distribution (T&D) lines. Even in the case of natural calamities like storms, efficient hazard tree management ensures that the risk of power disruption is successfully mitigated.

For this to happen, power utilities need to revolutionize vegetation management, which has hitherto been relying on ground reports, a large and disorganized workforce and ad-hoc intervention from management. Utilities need to leverage the best of cutting-edge technologies in order to build a fool-proof system that can eliminate existing inefficiencies and build a better operational system.

One of the emerging solutions for the utilities industry is AiDash Intelligent Vegetation Management System (IVMS). It is a unique solution that will help utility companies take a big stride towards eliminating planned power outages. IVMS combines satellite data, ground reports and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help T&D operations have complete control and total visibility of their asset network. To know more, visit https://www.aidash.com/ivms