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What is your Flood Protection Strategy when hurricanes strike?

Recent research indicates that increased hurricane activity, stronger storms, and rising water levels pose a serious flood threat to deteriorating power infrastructure, particularly along the East and Gulf Coasts. It is vital that you have an informed hurricane preparedness plan in place that can protect your electrical facilities from the devastating effects of flooding.

Efrain Giron

by Efrain Giron

Senior Water Resources Engineer, Calgary

27 March 2018
Southern Seawater Desal Plant

Challenges

Forecasters predict an ongoing increase in hurricane activity for the Atlantic Basin. The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season ranked as the most costly on record with total damages of over $280 billion (USD). The season also ranked as the fifth most active season since records began in 1851, and featured 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Jose, Lee, Maria and Ophelia). Despite our increasing reliance on electricity, electric infrastructure has deteriorated and the rate of outages from severe weather has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. As we look to the future of rising seas and more severe storms, we face an even greater challenge to ensure stable, reliable access to electricity.

These factors pose a serious and worsening threat to the electrical infrastructure along the US East and Gulf Coasts. Major substations and power plants that provide electricity to more than 70 million coastal residents (almost a quarter of the US population) are already exposed to flooding from hurricanes, nor’easters, and other severe storm events. Inundation or flooding of normally dry ground is the most direct hazard to electric grid components, including power generators, transformers, and substations (McNamara 2015).

The Lights Out paper (McNamara 2015) states that if a Category 3 hurricane hit these regions today, 68 power plants and 415 major substations could be flooded unless the utilities that own the facilities have taken sufficient steps to protect them. The share of exposed substations ranged from 16 percent in southeastern Florida to nearly 70 percent in the central Gulf Coast. For some towns and cities along the coast, the numbers are even worse. In Norfolk, Va., for example, the analysis found that 15 of 18 major substations, or more than 80 percent, could be exposed to flooding from a Category 3 storm today. In Charleston, S.C., 14 of 16 substations, or nearly 90 percent- including the only power plant in the city- would be in the path of anticipated storm surge.

How we can help

Advisian and WorleyParsons has over 130 years of combined power and water sector experience, including knowledge of existing plants and their issues. We provide full integration between our power and water service lines, giving us an advantage over a lot of our competitors in the general Flood Management Market. Advisian’s extensive experience in the power sector provides additional value to our power clients since we have first-hand understanding of how flooding can impact their operation, their rehabilitation timeframe and costs, their customer service, and their reputation. Additionally, the deployment of Advisian’s proprietary waterRIDE software allows unprecedented visualization of complex hydro-technical scenarios and how they interact with assets and infrastructure. WateRide allows our clients to be more predictive and proactive than reactive.

Advisian can help you proactively prepare for when the next hurricane hits. With our knowledge, tools, and expertise, we can customize a solution to fit your specific needs, resulting in increased efficiency, lower costs, and a reduced timeframe.

References

National Geographic. 2017 Hurricane Season Was the Most Expensive in US History, 2017. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/11/2017-hurricane-season-most-expensive-us-history-spd/

McNamara, J., Clemmer, S., Dahl, K., and Spanger-Siegfried, E. (2015, October). Light Out? Storm Surge, Blackouts, and How Clean Energy Can Help. Union of Concerned Scientist.

Wikipedia Contributors. “2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.”Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Atlantic_hurricane_season

Efrain Giron

Efrain Giron

Senior Water Resources Engineer

Efrain is a Senior Water Resources Engineer at Advisian. He has over 15 years in project management, flood studies, stormwater management, hydrologic and hydraulic studies, dam safety reviews/inspections, reservoir/pond design, design of erosion protection, water balance estimates, water sourcing studies, streams and watershed flood/drought statistical analyses, design of sewer and drinking water systems, regulatory support, project management and construction supervision. Efrain has held technical engineering roles in several international consulting organizations in offices throughout Canada, US and Latin America.

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