Concerns Grow Over Utilities’ Disaster Preparedness

natural disaster and storm

Technology company Itron, Inc., Liberty Lake, Wash., released Disaster Preparedness: Itron Resourcefulness Insight Report that details the results of a survey of 300 utility executives and 500 consumer utility ratepayers. The survey asked questions related to concerns over the ever-increasing number and intensity of disasters, and how utilities and ratepayers may be able to address these concerns.

The report addresses this serious topic as regions of the United States still struggle to recover from the past two years of disasters including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Florence and Dorian, the devastating wildfires of California and a host of floods and tornadoes that have devastated other areas of the nation.

The severity and frequency of disasters is not easing either. “Since 1970, the number of disasters worldwide has more than quadrupled to around 400 a year, according to the United Nations,” the report states.

The survey found:

  • 87% of consumers said they had been impacted by some type of disaster in the past five years.
  • Consumers top three concerns are extreme wind, extreme temperatures and flooding.
  • 69% of utility executives and 55% of consumers said they are more worried about a disaster striking today than they were five years ago.
  • 50% of consumers said they would be willing to pay more on their utility bills to invest in disaster preparedness.

The report went on to note:

  • Only 35% of consumers feel extremely or very confident in their utilities to be disaster-prepared.
  • Only 26% of consumers personally feel extremely or very prepared for a disaster.

According to the report, utilities’ top investment priorities to respond to disasters include smart and advanced metering, remote disconnect devices, customer communication systems, system hardening and outage detection and restoration.

More utility customers are seeking to take control of their own power with technologies such as home solar, home batteries and other microgrid-related technologies to keep their lights on when their utilities are unable to do so.  

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