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The 2023–2024 Winter Reliability Assessment from the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) has clearly warned about the elevated risk of blackouts in extreme winter conditions across much of North America. Climate change, rising energy demand, and natural gas dependence contribute to the power grid’s vulnerability, making a “massive grid disruption inevitable,” according to Mark Spurr, legislative director at the International District Energy Association. Utilities must customize communication strategies to address these vulnerabilities based on regional risks. 


Tailoring Communication for the Regions 

With specific vulnerabilities in different regions, utilities must customize their communication strategies. For instance: 

Southern Midcontinent ISO Market could communicate the importance of robust weatherization measures and the strategic management of natural gas resources to prevent high generator outages.  

  • The risk of forced outages during extreme cold temperatures, as projected by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), underscores the region’s vulnerability due to its reliance on natural gas for power generation. Utilities should address this by communicating the imperative of robust weatherization measures and strategic management of natural gas resources to prevent high generator outages. Collaborative efforts, such as ERCOT’s proposal to increase operating reserves, are crucial in fortifying the energy infrastructure. 

New England communication should emphasize the potential challenges in gas transportation due to fuel diversion for consumer heating needs. 

  • An article in The New England Journal of Energy Policy highlights the region’s interdependence of gas supply for residential heating and power generation. In turn, this impacts gas availability for power generation. Therefore, it is vital to balance consumer needs with maintaining energy reliability.   

PJM Interconnection Territory and U.S. Southeast strategies must account for the likelihood of severe cold causing forced outages, especially in areas where forecasted peak demand has risen. 

  • recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy emphasizes the impact of increased peak demand on the power grid’s reliability. This underlines the importance of utilities in these regions communicating proactively about potential forced outages, the importance of energy conservation during peak periods, and any additional measures consumers can take to contribute to grid reliability. 

Southwest Power Pool: 

Utilities in this region must communicate the potential for forced outages and the need for increased operating reserves.  

  • Recent reports from the Southwest Power Pool highlighted the dynamic challenges arising from shifting resource capacities. They increased forecasted peak demand during winter storms. This information becomes crucial for utilities in shaping effective communication strategies with consumers.  

Regional Variations and Customer Engagement Needs 

As utilities face unique challenges based on their geographical locations, it becomes crucial to tailor communication programs to educate customers on regional risks and preparedness measures. Recognizing these regional variations, Message Broadcast stands at the forefront of technology solutions for utilities, offering two-way communication, omnichannel solutions, and crisis communication tools. 

Message Broadcast’s Enterprise Omnichannel Notification System (EONS) offers a sophisticated platform to elevate communication strategies for utilities. EONS goes beyond traditional approaches, incorporating powerful mapping tools to segment customer data based on geographical location, enabling targeted communications addressing unique challenges and vulnerabilities in different regions. 

EONS empowers utilities to craft customized communication campaigns, tailoring messages to resonate with diverse populations. Partnered with Conversations, a chatbot for cost-effective and scalable customer engagement, these technology solutions streamline communications and foster effective community engagement. By leveraging Message Broadcast’s technology solutions; utilities can educate customers on regional risks and preparedness measures, fostering a stronger connection between utilities and their customer base. 


It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach

In conclusion, as the utility sector prepares for challenges posed by extreme winter conditions, partnering with Message Broadcast can ensure a forward-looking and resilient approach. The combination of regional insights, omnichannel communication, and cutting-edge technology solutions equips utilities to enhance customer education and contribute to the overall reliability of the power grid. As we embrace innovation, the path to a more resilient and connected future for utilities becomes more precise, with Message Broadcast at the forefront of communication excellence.