Entergy Mississippi summarizes lessons learned in its latest storm report
After several tornadoes and severe thunderstorms struck its service area in June, Entergy Mississippi LLC (EML) learned several lessons that will help the facility improve restoration efforts, according to a new report.
In the “Mississippi Public Service Commission June 2023 Storm Report” it submitted to the PSC last week, EML acknowledged that while it executed its storm response plan well, it did not meet customer expectations regarding storm communications. EML, which provides electricity to about 461,000 customers in 45 Mississippi counties, is a subsidiary of Entergy Corp., a Fortune 500 electric company.
“The information we presented to the committee reinforces why Entergy Mississippi is a leading utility company – we learn from every storm,” said Haley Visakerly, CEO and President of EML. “We will use this experience to improve our restoration process.”
In June, the National Weather Service in Jackson, Mississippi, issued 221 severe thunderstorm warnings, 14 tornado warnings, seven flash flood warnings, and 21 severe thunderstorm or tornado warnings.
“The impact of the June 2023 storms alone exceeded 2022’s total storm damage, with the June 2023 storms causing the most damage to the Jackson metro area’s EML system since Hurricane Katrina,” according to the report, the purpose of which was to respond to Mississippi PSC inquiries.
EML, along with its sister operating companies, is nationally recognized for its leadership and excellence in emergency facility restoration events and is the only utility group to receive awards from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the trade association representing the nation’s investor-owned utilities, for excellence In response every year since the EEI Award was established.
Consistent with these accolades, EML noted that when the June storms hit its service area, the company’s workforce and contract partners made an “outstanding effort” to restore power to customers. But the complexities of the Automated Distribution Management System (ADMS) software overwhelmed that effort, hindering EML’s outage management system from working as designed and creating challenges in communicating with customers, according to the report.
In short, the complexities of ADMS software caused delays and inaccuracies in estimated recovery times (ERTs), which are typically conveyed through EML’s normal customer communication channels. But the information customers wanted most — their ERT teams — wasn’t readily available, EML says in its report.
“We know that the cascading nature of the storms combined with complexities in one of our technology systems caused our customers to experience unusual communications,” EML’s Fisackerly said in a statement. “We also know that our investments in infrastructure and operations have been critical factors in bringing the lights back on for our customers.”
The result is that EML has learned many lessons, and moving forward, facility recovery operations will continue to improve.
“Immediately following the June 2023 storms, EML began implementing improvements and a mitigation plan to address the dissatisfaction EML heard from customers during an extreme weather event,” the EML report says.
For example, EML will provide additional resources to customers to educate them about the damage assessment view of the Outage View Map to help them become more familiar with and better understand the enhanced map.
Additionally, Entergy Services LLC’s IT department is requiring the software provider to bring a triage team on-site so that its employees will be present and available for troubleshooting “in the moment” in the event of severe weather, according to the report.
ESL’s IT department has also implemented a series of software updates to help avoid some of the data errors the company experienced during the June storms and advised that if its service area experiences a high volume of outages that cannot be handled by ADMS, EML is prepared to deploy its business continuity plan. Business, including more manual methods for managing power outages.
“Although manual processes may be more time-consuming in some aspects of restoration work, they can result in more accurate ERT teams for clients,” the utility said.
EML’s power delivery staff are also developing and training backup methods to minimize the impact on safe and timely power restoration for customers, while also trying to provide customers with the most up-to-date information possible, the report says.
“EML also understands how important it is for customers to know what is happening in their area during a storm, and EML is committed to keeping them updated on its progress throughout each day of the storm restoration by texting, making calls, posting information on, viewing the Outage map and Storm Center locations, and sharing information,” the company stated. On social media channels and other media channels.
At the same time, EML also conducts drills and exercises throughout the year to focus on different types of weather events, and is currently evaluating what, if any, additional storm strengthening, vegetation management, or other upgrades to the distribution system could provide. Greater resilience in the face of severe, high-impact storms. While the review is ongoing, EML plans to include this topic in its upcoming annual transmission and distribution plan filing.
“EML preparations for storm seasons occur year-round – from year-round grid inspections and vegetation management to training, storm simulations and industry collaboration,” the report says. “EML’s Power Delivery Group continues to train its employees and contract partners regarding safe and effective work practices to further develop workers’ skills and experience levels.”
EML said it will also continue to provide requested information to the PSC and welcomes customer feedback.