RALEIGH, NC - May 27, 2021
When an energy utility serves nearly one million customers across a large Midwest service territory, they need to prepare for whatever Mother Nature has in store.
Alliant Energy faced one of the biggest outages in their 40-year history when a derecho–a powerful, widespread windstorm–moved across their service territory last August and knocked out power for 260,000 customers in Iowa. The storm caused $11 billion in damage to homes and businesses throughout Iowa and neighboring states.
After the winds passed, Alliant Energy quickly sprang into action. They used near real-time data from their smart utility network from Sensus, a Xylem brand, to make informed decisions swiftly and restore power for the majority of customers in just a few days.
“It was all-hands-on-deck to get power restored as quickly as possible,” said Randy Bauer, Alliant Energy’s director of operational resources. “Thankfully, the technology investments we made previously helped provide a roadmap for where we needed to go and what we needed to do.”
The utility teams’ forward thinking is both a powerful example of the importance of planning ahead and a primer on how to best capitalize on scalable technology. In 2019, they deployed smart infrastructure to provide remote management capabilities that could aid in outage restoration. Their deployment included more than 490,000 Stratus® residential electricity meters and the Sensus FlexNet® communication network, a reliable, two-way system that enables near real-time meter data monitoring.
As the intense winds from the 2020 derecho began to die down, an Alliant team used data from their smart network to execute the outage management and restoration process. Dedicated crews continued working through the harder-hit areas, and power became available to all customers within 16 days.
Between storms, they put their technology to work for meter mapping to prepare for the next adverse event. The utility was using geographic information system (GIS) mapping to help understand the topography of their service area, but they found inconsistency in the data.
This led them to conduct a pilot program with the Sensus phase detection application across 600 electricity meters in the town of DeWitt, Iowa. This extension of the utility’s smart network proved capable of detecting the correct phase with 100% accuracy. The Alliant team was so impressed with the results of the pilot program that they plan to extend the capability across their entire service area.
Regardless of where Alliant Energy goes next, the utility team has accurate, reliable data to address future challenges.
“The data we receive helps us better understand what’s happening in our service territory,” said Bauer. “That allows us to make faster, more informed decisions, and we expect that to benefit our customers for years to come.”
Read the case study to learn more about how Alliant Energy is extending the value of their smart utility network investment.
- Alliant Energy’s smart utility network provides robust, reliable and near real-time data.
- The Flexnet communication network helped Alliant Energy make informed decisions about power restoration after a devastating windstorm knocked out power to 260,000 customers.
- The utility also uses the Sensus phase detection application for accurate meter mapping.
The data we receive…allows us to make faster, more informed decisions, and we expect that to benefit our customers for years to come.
Alliant Energy, Director of Operational Resources