Wednesday, September 23

Power in Resilience

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Jimmy Sandlin, General Manager, Holston Electric Cooperative

I recently watched “Unbroken,” the remarkable story of Louis Zamperini, a young Air Force lieutenant who served during World War II. Zamperini’s story is one of survival, redemption and incredible resilience.

After surviving a crash into the Pacific, Zamperini drifted in a tiny life raft for weeks before he was taken prisoner by the Japanese. His struggle was only beginning. He went on to endure two years of brutal captivity until he was finally freed at the end of the war.

Resilience is a valuable characteristic. It is something we want to instill in our kids. Athletes, business leaders, politicians and others are often described as “resilient.”

Resiliency also matters to your electric utility, and it is something we frequently discuss.

Resiliency is many things. It’s the reliability of your electric service, it’s our ability to efficiently restore your power, it’s being able to meet the demands of new technology, and it’s how we serve you with various generation sources without skipping a beat.

Having a resilient electric grid begins with a system that is designed and built to withstand high winds, powerful storms, cybersecurity threats and other disruptions that could result in outages. A resilient grid is also flexible and adaptable by allowing different types of generation — such as wind, solar, coal and hydro — to seamlessly work together to provide you with safe and reliable power. The way our systems react to advancements in technology — from demand response investments to serving the needs of electric vehicles — all factor into the resilience of our grid.

Resiliency is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year task. Whether it’s the power lines, substations or other equipment on our grid, it takes proactive maintenance and investment to keep them running smoothly.

Similar to how we maintain our vehicles with regular oil changes, inspections and tire rotations, our grid must also be properly maintained. Throughout the year, we regularly conduct pole and line inspections. Our goal is to find a problem before it becomes major. Doing so ensures that our system is as strong — as resilient — as it can be.

We know that significant power outages can occur, especially as winter approaches. From ice storms to tornadoes, we are confident in the resiliency of our system to recover from the situation with as little disruption as possible.

In the dictionary, resilience is defined as “the ability to bounce back, recover quickly and go back into shape or position after being stretched.” When it comes to providing our consumers with resilient service, this is our goal — day in and day out.


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