Utilities in the Age of Work From Home

Craig Lawrence Case Studies, Customer Experience

Every industry has had to adapt to Covid-19 in its own way. For many, it’s been devastating – resulting in record job losses and numerous closed businesses. Others, like the tech industry, are adapting to the “new normal” and changing their policies to let everyone work from home – forever. But some industries don’t have the luxury to close down, or let all of their workers work from home. Your utilities – electricity, gas, and communications providers are truly the definition of “essential” businesses. They form the backbone and the infrastructure that enables the rest of us to continue working, whether from the office or from home. And, they have had to adapt.

Electric utilities rely on an understanding of how their residential, commercial, and industrial customers use energy. They use that knowledge of historical consumption to plan generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity. And, during Covid-19, much has changed. With businesses closed, and more people at home during the day, patterns of electricity use have changed. Pecan Street, our neighbors here in Austin, TX, published some great data on the change in residential electricity demand during Covid-19.

For the homes that they monitor, they showed that residential electricity demand went up, and the patterns of use have changed substantially.

Other studies have shown that despite increased demand at home, overall demand dropped substantially, as businesses and factories shuttered – making every day look like a weekend.

But every day is not a weekend for electric utility workers. Whether in the control room, or in the field, many utility workers have had to continue to show up for work and do their job. But they have made some changes. One of our customers, a large rural electric co-op, made use of a back-up operations center, enabling them to “socially distance” by splitting people between multiple locations. With today’s IT tools, it is possible to do some utility work remotely, and many of the core software systems used to operate the grid can be accessed via VPN, or in the cloud. At the end of the day, electric utilities are managing real, physical assets. Substations, transformers, power lines, switches. So while automation is making its way into the utility environment – it’s not a hands-free operation yet.

Treverity is proud to support our utility customers with tools to help them adapt during these changing times. Our software products, like Utility360, enable utility employees to access the critical data and information they need to do their job, whether at home, in the control room, or in the field. Utility360 lets every employee in the utility know everything that the utility knows. And our goal is always to make people better at their work.

So, say thanks to your local utility worker the next time you see them. They are literally keeping the lights on, making it easier for you to adapt to this new normal.