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How Much Progress Has the Electroindustry Made since Superstorm Sandy?


10/29/2013 9:30 AM

Today marks the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, a storm system that caused 117 deaths—nine from carbon monoxide poisoning, most likely from improper use of portable generators—and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses. Nearly eight million people across the mid-Atlantic and New England regions were left without power, some for more than two weeks. Sandy’s effects carried over into 2013. Earlier this fall, it was suspected that the Seaside Heights, New Jersey, boardwalk fire may have been caused by water-damaged electrical wires from flooding caused by Sandy.

Over the past year, what progress has the electroindustry made to improve electrical infrastructure?

At the state level, many have implemented the most recent edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). By using the most recent NEC, states are ensuring the safety of their residents as these codes help prevent personal injury, structural damage, and electrical fires.

At the federal level, funds have been allocated to communities to help them rebuild smart instead of replace the previous sub-standard systems and equipment. By incorporating Smart Grid technologies into the current electrical grid, it allows the grid to rebound more quickly from—or in some cases avoid—outages. Examples of Smart Grid technologies include smart meters, distribution automation, and energy storage.

NEMA has made available resources to educate the public, installers, and inspectors about the benefits of Smart Grid technologies and how to assess electrical equipment that has been damaged by water, fire, or heat. Storm Reconstruction: Rebuild Smart highlights several technologies that can help mitigate power outages, as well as strengthen the grid. Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment and Evaluating Fire- and Heat-Damaged Electrical Equipment are guides illustrating how to determine when a piece of electrical equipment should be replaced or fixed and re-energized after being exposed to water or heat and fire residue. All of these resources are available on the NEMA website at no charge. Complimentary hard copies may be requested by contacting communications@nema.org.

“A lot of debate is taking place this week as to whether a Sandy-like event would occur again,” said NEMA President and CEO Evan Gaddis. “While some service disruptions are unavoidable, the progress we made between Irene in 2011 and Sandy in 2012 indicates that we can greatly mitigate the impacts for hurricane-magnitude storms.”

NEMA is the association of electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers, founded in 1926 and headquartered in Rosslyn, Virginia. Its 400-plus member companies manufacture a diverse set of products including power transmission and distribution equipment, lighting systems, factory automation and control systems, and medical diagnostic imaging systems. Total U.S. shipments for electroindustry products exceed $100 billion annually.

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