Deploy risk-based vegetation management for better outage prediction

The challenge

After acquiring an electric utility in the northeastern US, a long-time E Source client turned its focus to the leading cause of power interruptions in its new territory: vegetation management. Utility operators quickly realized that the size and scale of vegetation impacts to the distribution system required a robust understanding of localized vegetation outage risk.

The utility immediately thought of its prior success working with E Source. It knew it could trust the experts once again to help prioritize vegetation management efforts, improve reliability, and save on operations and maintenance by reducing crew outage responses.

The solution

The utility partnered with E Source to predict vegetation-induced outage risk across its new service territory. E Source created a tree-presence model to map vegetation surrounding the utility’s infrastructure. The team then compiled utility-specific outage data along with other important geospatial variables to model and predict outage risk across the system at resolutions ranging from hyperlocal grids to entire circuits. This allowed the utility to reduce the area it was targeting for vegetation efforts while understanding system-wide challenges, enabling the utility to focus on areas where outage risk was the highest and optimize its budget.

E Source also supplied vegetation outage risk scores down to the individual street level for every street in the utility’s territory, all visualized through interactive tools and delivered as files for geographic information system (GIS) integration.

The results

E Source’s predictive models showed the utility that less than 1% of its service territory accounted for the top 5% of riskiest areas—those areas with the highest probability of experiencing vegetation-related outages. This short list of the worst risk areas allowed the utility to launch a hypertargeted vegetation management effort. The utility saw a 14% improvement in System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) through its high-risk action program in other territories and expects similar results in this new jurisdiction. With E Source models in hand, the utility can assess and address high-risk vegetated areas proactively, allowing it to optimize its annual budget and remove risk before summer storm season.