7.1 Keeping the Lights On and Communities Smiling: How National Grid Expanded Outage Forecasting Improvements into a Successful Community Engagement Initiative

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 1:30 PM
Room 346/347 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Dennis Stewart, Earth Networks, Germantown, MD

To help keep the power on to more than three million customers in the northeastern U.S., National Grid embarked on a major initiative within New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts combining real-time data from community weather stations, advanced forecasting technology, and sophisticated outage modeling approaches.

To begin, National Grid partnered with WeatherBug to install 55 WeatherBug weather stations throughout New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to maximize coverage within the WeatherBug weather network. These stations report current weather conditions every few seconds from locations right within communities. This hyper-local data is then fed into ENcast, an advanced weather forecasting system, which in turn feeds National Grid's outage models. These models enable National Grid's ability to predict, monitor and respond to outages in a timely and efficient manner. This integration netted an outage forecast improvement of 50% over the standard guidance available from the NWS.

While the forecast improvement is certainly notable, what is even more noteworthy is how National Grid parlayed the project into a large community service initiative. National Grid donated project weather stations to local schools and emergency management operations centers- bringing live weather data into classrooms to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lessons, as well as to provide local first responders with hyper-local weather data to help keep communities safe.

This session will discuss the overall project including analysis and planning for optimal weather data coverage, outage forecasting improvement, identification of schools and first responder locations, community involvement, and plans for future project expansion. Highlights will also include how schools, first responders and the communities have access to the weather data through services from WeatherBug including its popular mobile weather app.

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