Scott Cisel is Utilities Industry insight lead for Accenture in North America, and Bill Ernzen is a managing director in Accenture Smart Grid Services.
While current national and regional mutual aid processes historically have been effective, the magnitude of Superstorm Sandy exposed issues that industry executives recognize they must address. Predictions for the increased frequency and magnitude of these superstorms have brought new focus on issues affecting the industry’s ability to respond. Recognizing that the next set of Sandy-type storms need to be addressed differently, utility executives are rethinking manpower strategies and the associated enabling technology to optimize utilization and scheduling of incoming craft-skilled manpower.
During isolated events, manpower generally is readily available, as nearby resources can be brought in from peer utilities. But a superstorm event spans a wide geographic area, and raises manpower needs across potentially multiple states and jurisdictions, with different work procedures and protocols. In these situations, utilities still count on other utilities as well as contractors for assistance, but the scale, reach, and complexity increases. It takes more time to identify support, transport resources, address state-by-state traveling issues, and then quickly orient and dispatch crews.