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How Load Testing Helped Texans Survive Power Outages During a Storm

Jun 13, 2024
8 min read

One of the largest electric distribution company in Texas that serves over 100,000 people, ensuring an uninterrupted power supply. To maintain service quality during weather-related power outages, it must comply with the Texas Reliability Entity, which ensures energy providers’ reliability and security.

Note
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) mandates that electric utilities report any disturbances causing power outages affecting more than 300 megawatts (MW) or impacting 50,000 or more customers.

To provide clients with reliable service, the company deployed Storm Center and the Outage Reporting & Status (OR&S) software on its website. These services allow customers to promptly receive and report information about power outages.

how pflb helped texans survive power outages during a storm scenarios

Challenge

In Texas, storms are common, causing high winds that damage electrical systems and leave thousands without stable access to electricity. Such outages can last several days and lead to severe economic consequences for energy consumers and providers.

Note
A study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in 2001 identified three sectors accounting for nearly 40% of the US gross domestic product. The annual cost of outages across all US business sectors ranged from $104 billion to $164 billion.

The financial loss for the company is one aspect, but the other is the likelihood that thousands of people will be without electricity for an indefinite period during and after the storm. This affects not only private homes but also hospitals and other critical facilities. Continuous improvement of reporting services like Storm Center and OR&S is critical for saving lives.

Solution

The company expected more than 100,000 people to use Storm Center and OR&S. Storm Center would show customers the affected outage area, while OR&S would enable customers to inform the company about outages. This way, both the company and customers would have current outage information.

To check whether the services could withstand the expected load, the company used PFLB tool to conduct load testing and analyze Storm Center’s performance under the load of 10,000 emulated users and 7,200 outage report submissions per hour for OR&S.

To recreate realistic storm-caused user scenarios, PFLB tested both systems simultaneously.

Results

Load testing was conducted in close collaboration with the company and the provider of OR&S and Outage Map solutions. The test revealed that Storm Center performed well, showing brief surges in response time across a sequence of operations. Besides these spikes, the response time for all operations remained consistent.

how pflb helped texans survive power outages during a storm response time 1

However, performance issues were identified in the OR&S service, showing abnormal response time increases in certain operations. These problems were confirmed as temporary and not detrimental to clients, but further investigations were recommended for sustained reliability and performance.

how pflb helped texans survive power outages during a storm response time 2

The company conducted a root-cause analysis independently, leveraging infrastructure, application, and database performance metrics. This allowed precise adjustments to the service’s performance under varying workloads, preventing future occurrences of such issues during real-world operations.

Benefits

Load testing ensured that the applications could handle the desired load. The company is now ready to face the heaviest storms while being online, even with a high load of customers using Storm Center and OR&S. It is compliant with industry standards and ready to provide high-quality service for Texans.

“Working with the PFLB team has been especially important for us. Their expertise in load testing proved that our Storm Center and OR&S services can handle extreme demands during storms.

Thanks to their input, we’re ready to keep Texans safe and informed during outages.”

About PFLB

PFLB is a cloud-based load testing solution that helps businesses identify performance issues and fix them on time. It has proven efficient for various industries, including Energy and Utilities. For more information about our capabilities, please get in touch with sales.

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