The Quest For Fewer And Shorter Outages

Creating a portfolio of small investments and analytics can help even the best utilities improve their record

Thanks to digitization, utility customers have so many more reasons to demand the best reliability possible from their electric utilities – from checking a home camera, to remotely controlling the home thermostat, to charging the vast array of electronics consumers maintain, including even their automobiles.

The good news for electric utilities in the United States is that, as a group, they have done remarkably well over the past decade delivering and improving service reliability in terms of the overall frequency of outages, which has been declining. The annual median number of non-storm service interruptions dropped 11 percent between 2010 and 2015, after falling 16 percent for the five years before. These calculations are based on IEEE 2.5 beta System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) data, which excludes major storms.

But not every utility has been able to achieve this result. A considerable number of utilities have seen a falloff in reliability (outage frequency), while others are finding further gains increasingly difficult to eke out.

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Sources: IEEE Distribution Reliability Working Group Benchmark Results 2005 to 2015, Oliver Wyman analysis

About Authors

Alan Feibelman is a Boston-based partner in Oliver Wyman’s Energy practice, Curtis Underwood is a Boston-based partner in Oliver Wyman’s Energy practice, and Daniel Ludwin is a Toronto-based principal in Oliver Wyman’s Energy practice.

The Quest For Fewer And Shorter Outages