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The Secret to Three U.S. Utilities’ Success During Thunderstorm Season

Atlantic City Electric in southern New Jersey, Delmarva Power in Delaware and Maryland, and Pepco in Maryland and Washington D.C. are part of the Exelon family of companies that oversee the delivery of clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy service to more than two million electric and natural gas customers. The companies are StormGeo customers, utilizing the StormGeo portal and meteorological support services.

The companies depend on StormGeo year-round—as winter weather, hurricane season and severe weather in spring all bring their own unique challenges—but are in particular need of support during thunderstorm season. Thunderstorms can be damaging for utilities and cause outages, which not only impact the utility, but can close schools, shut down businesses, impede emergency services and cost the economy billions of dollars.

When severe weather strikes, Atlantic City Electric, Delmarva Power and Pepco position crews to respond to storms that have hit their service territories, always keeping the safety of employees, customers and community members as their top priority.

Brian Gildemeyer, Senior Emergency Preparedness Specialist at Pepco Holdings, the parent of the three utilities, contacted StormGeo to give his feedback on recent weather events where StormGeo had gone above and beyond in supporting his team.

Brian Gildemeyer, Pepco

One of these events was a powerful thunderstorm ahead of Hurricane Elsa. “One of our sites was hit with a really strong, isolated thunderstorm cell that caused significant outages,” explains Gildemeyer. “I was called by my colleague to get an hourly forecast to help him determine if our crews could be sent to the site overnight to help with storm restoration. StormGeo’s forecast gave my colleague confidence that the region was in the clear through the night, and crews were safely sent to the site ahead of Elsa.”

On another day with severe weather, including several significant thunderstorms, two tornadoes and damaging straight line winds in Pepco’s region, Pepco required real-time radar and forecast analysis.

Gildemeyer explains what happened next: “I was able to call StormGeo on the spot and get an hourly breakdown and projection of those thunderstorms as they moved through our regions. Conveying StormGeo’s information to our storm team allowed them to mobilize crews quicker—saving hours of restoration time. Hours makes a huge difference when providing our customers a time estimate of when their power will come back. Within 24 hours, all the customers in the impacted region were restored.”

Like many StormGeo customers, Atlantic City Electric, Delmarva Power and Pepco say one of the biggest benefits in partnering with StormGeo is the ability to reach out and speak to a forecaster directly. If a large storm, such as a hurricane or winter storm, is a threat, StormGeo forecasters join their utility conference calls to give their management team a full brief of the impacts that can be expected and any mitigating actions that should be taken.

“We sometimes take a more proactive approach and reach out to them first when we see a challenging forecast,” says Nathan Stanford, StormWatch Manager at StormGeo, who works closely with Pepco. “Thunderstorms are known to be difficult to forecast but can have a big impact, especially on utilities. Thankfully, we have the best group of forecasters that get better each year at identifying events that could create challenges for our customers.”

After two weeks of ongoing severe weather across the mid-Atlantic, the company’s operations teams were anxious about potentially severe weather in the wake of Hurricane Elsa. “The operations lead in charge of storm duty gave me a call asking for an hourly forecast and analysis of the thunderstorm activity,” says Gildemeyer. “StormGeo’s forecast was spot-on and there were no additional concerns from the leader. Job well done helping to calm some anxiety in regards to the severe thunderstorms.”

“This year has seen a very storm-heavy season, which certainly adds stress to their team,” noted Stanford. “We work hard to support them any way we can to reduce that stress.”

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