In the second article of the Managing Disruption series, SAS Institute shared a few common ways data and analytics can help energy providers mitigate fire risk. Now, it will examine how Southern California Edison (SCE) uses SAS to apply these practises in the US.

SCE supplies electricity to 14 million people across a service territory of 130,000 square kilometers, roughly a third of California. 

In 2017, the company was involved in the Thomas Fire, a massive blaze which burned for 40 days, incinerating 1,150km of land and destroying over 1,000 buildings. 

According to the Ventura County Fire Department, the fire started when a high wind event caused SCE’s power lines to come into contact with each other, creating an electrical arc which deposited burning material onto the ground, causing the fire.

The risk of wildfire has increased over the last decade and requires focused attention. SCE is determined to expand fire safety measures including the use of streaming data and advanced analytics to proactively identify fire risks before they occur. 

No energy provider can prevent fires with 100 per cent certainty, but SCE stands apart for its diligence in mitigating wildfire risk. 

SCE wildfire mitigation plan highlights

SCE remains steadfast in its fire prevention efforts. According to a 2019 news release, the company has taken substantial steps to reduce the risk of fires caused by its electrical equipment in the changing, high-fire-risk areas in its service territory. 

SCE is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the implementation of enhanced plans to more safely and reliably provide power to millions of homes and businesses, by employing design and construction standards, vegetation management practices and other operational practices to mitigate wildfire risk.

Half of the top ten fires in California have occurred in the last decade, including the Thomas fire and Mendocino complex fire. 

This increase in risk has prompted the California Public Utilities Commission to require every California network operator to submit a wildfire mitigation plan to state regulators. 

Plans must include what the operator is already doing and what they plan to do to prevent fires. SCE’s 237-page 2020-2022 wildfire mitigation plan provides a playbook on how data, advanced risk analytics and innovative technologies can be used to help energy providers mitigate wildfire risks and improve public safety.

A few highlights include:

Increased data capturing

Data analysis and automation are increasingly part of SCE’s wildfire mitigation planning and implementation, as well as broader operations. 

New wildfire initiatives launched in 2018 and 2019 captured additional data that’s now used to improve analysis at more granular levels and inform wildfire mitigation programs. 

SCE also launched new tools including machine learning capabilities to automatically turn data into insight. 

Enhanced risk analysis

Another significant advancement has been moving beyond enterprise-level risk models to asset-level risk models. 

By targeting specific assets and locations with higher risk profiles, SCE is more effectively allocating constrained labor resources to reduce risk beyond what is expected from system-level averages. 

The company is also incorporating risk analysis powered by SAS technology in its approach to Public Safety Power Shutoff events and resilience.

Aerial image modeling

SCE is commissioning new helicopter-mounted image capture and infrared technology for real-time or post-flight inspections of assets. High definition images are reviewed to identify any potential equipment failures.  

The infrared (IR) technology picks up heat signatures that indicate damaged equipment. As part of this, SCE uses machine learning and AI capabilities to automatically identify and flag equipment deviations and anomalies to qualified personnel – allowing them to proactively address fire risks.

Better reporting

SCE knows a wildfire mitigation plan is useless without measurement. As such, the company has deemed metrics and underlying data as critical components to evaluate the effectiveness and compliance of its wildfire mitigation programs. 

SCE has become adept at collecting, monitoring, and analysing metrics, drawing a clear distinction between metrics that can help inform future wildfire mitigation plans, and metrics that can help monitor progress on approved plans.

Read the plan

The Southern California Edison 2020-2022 wildfire mitigation plan sheds light on a number of valuable data and analytics use cases. 

The California energy provider remains at the forefront of using analytics to prevent devastating wildfires and protect the safety of its customers and communities.

This partner content is brought to you by SAS Institute. 

Did you know Southern California Edison uses predictive analytics and AioT to mitigate fire risk? Learn more.

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