Jul 09, 2020

Come hail or high water, resilient network up to task

Network resilience is at the forefront of Western Power Distribution’s operation.

Through continued investment, use of innovation and technology and a committed and hardworking workforce, the company has been able to significantly decrease the number and duration of power outages.

WPD is also addressing physical risks through climate adaptation actions such as investing in flood defense measures to mitigate weather-related impacts on our facilities and to make the grid more reliable and resilient.

This resiliency strategy was put to the test in 2019, when the Steeping River in Wainfleet, Lincolnshire, burst its banks, forcing the evacuation of almost 600 homes and threatened to flood eight WPD substations.

WPD staff worked around the clock, alongside other members of the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum and countless volunteers, to protect people and property, including two substations vital to flood response efforts.

When faced with a steaming transformer, we had to reconsider plans to de-energize it, which would cut off electric supply to the local fire station. The station was being used as a command center to coordinate the multi-agency response on the ground and was vital to the emergency response, so any loss of power would mean loss of a critical communication hub.

Thanks to WPD’s investment in network resiliency, which allows the company to quickly restore power by remotely redirecting power via unaffected sections of the network, the total time of disconnection for the command center was limited to just 21/2 minutes. All efforts could then be focused on battling rising flood waters.

“The events at Wainfleet were unique and had an immense impact on the people living there. The multi-agency response swung quickly into action and remained for over a week to facilitate a relatively swift return to normality,” said Carl Henshaw, emergency planning officer. “WPD played a massive role in the response, again demonstrating our commitment to protect our customers.”