Extreme weather and other natural disasters can threaten lives, disable communities, and devastate electric utilities’ generation, transmission, and distribution systems. The majority of outages result from damage to the millions of miles of distribution lines. Utilities and their crews have continued to improve disaster response, focusing on upgraded equipment, advanced communications, rapid deployment of staged resources from their own and other utilities, and the systematic application of lessons learned.

However, customers’ expectations of service reliability have changed dramatically with the evolution of the 24/7, digitally connected society. Even with enhanced response and heroic efforts by crews, restoration that stretches to days, and in some cases weeks, is no longer acceptable. At the same time, consumers expect electricity to be affordable. The investment required to “harden” the distribution system to withstand the worst disasters must be regarded by all concerned as prudent and cost-effective.

This white paper reviews innovative technologies that EPRI and electricity sector stakeholders are developing to address this challenge and to serve as a basis for a multipronged approach to make the distribution system more resilient to storms and terrorist attacks. Collaboration between EPRI, electric utilities, and technology providers can accelerate the development, demonstration, and deployment of these technologies to meet consumers’ expectations with respect to reliability and affordability while maintaining environmental sensitivity...(Read more...)