Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Assessing damages from power outages during Winter Storm season


In the United States, February is the peak of the winter storm season, and electric utilities across the country are bracing for the possibility of power outages.

When ice, heavy snow, and high winds disrupt the grid, Leidos engineers are frequently called in to assess the damage.

Why you should be aware: Winter storms, tropical storms, wildfires, and other extreme weather events can devastate the grid and endanger lives.

Power outages can cause water contamination, food spoilage, hypothermia, communication breakdowns, and the disruption of essential services.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, weather and climate disasters in the United States caused 474 deaths and $165 billion in economic losses last year (NOAA).

Hurricane and winter storm seasons, according to Leidos expert Thomas Cooney, who manages a team of 400 distribution engineers across the southeastern United States, are the busiest for disaster support.

 “It all happens very fast,” says Cooney. “Once a major storm event hits and utilities need our services, we’re mobilizing within 24 hours. Out of respect for firemen, EMTs and police, I wouldn’t consider us first responders. But in these situations, I’d say we’re very close second responders assessing damage in storm-ravaged areas to get power restored to those who need it most.”

Cooney is proud of his team and the role it plays in restoring power in times of crisis.

“Everyone thinks of elderly people in their homes during a power outage,” he said, “but it’s also critical to restore power to schools, hospitals and businesses. Leidos has more than a thousand power delivery engineers across the country who play an extremely important role in helping utilities ensure safety and survival during these emergencies.”

Cooney stated that utilities are heavily investing in grid hardening efforts to reduce vulnerability to extreme weather.

“When we’re not responding to emergencies, a big part of our job consists of constructing stronger, smarter and more resilient infrastructure that can stand up to extreme conditions and creating redundant power lines for when a primary feed goes down.”