Outage ManagementThe number one area of lost revenue in electrical utilities are outages, planned orunplanned. Outages have been a constant in the past and will continue to be a constantinto the future. We can manage these outages more efficiently in the future by utilizingand analyzing the data provided to utilities during the outage(s) from one location. Thislocation is a GIS (Geographical Information System).Data SourcesWhat are the possible data sources for the electrical utility? • Customer Information System (CIS) • Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) or Advance Metering Infrastructure (AMI) • Phone calls from the customers during the outage using an Interactive Voice Recording (IVR)/Auto Attendant or calling into a Customer Service Representative (CSR) • Maps (Digital or Paper/Mylar) of the electrical facilities. • Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) or GPS in the vehicles • SCADA • Weather RadarFigure 1
Notice in Figure 1 the data sources are not connected and have a person next to eachsource. When data sources are not connected together seamlessly, more employees areneeded to manage the data sources. Not all utilities will have all of these data sources butall utilities have at least some of these sources. All utilities have some sort of mappingwhether or not the mapping has been converted into a digital format depends on theutility. All utilities have customer information in some form or another. If the utility hasSmart Metering (AMR/AMI) then they typically have a CIS. We find that most utilitieswe deal with have just the mapping and Smart Metering with a CIS but not much more.These components are typically not integrated together.IntegrationIntegration of data is the key to managing outages efficiently. GIS is the integrator of datasources. For electrical utilities, it is important to note the how critical having all datasources MultiSpeak (multispeak.org) compliant and interoperable. I can not stress enoughhow important it is to make sure all the software that is accessed by the GIS to managenot only Outage Management Systems (OMS) but as well as the Engineering Analysis,Staking, Billing, Smart Metering, etc. If the interoperability is there from the beginningthe marriage of all the data will be seamless in the GIS making the integration easier andmore cost effective for the utility in the integration process.GIS joins all the data sources together. It truly is the hub. From this hub the decisionmakers can make decisions at a high accuracy rate and faster than ever before. The reasonfor this is because the data is displayed on a map. So the trends and patterns become veryeasy to discern on the fly.Figure 2
Notice in Figure 2 GIS is now the hub of the wheel and the data sources are the spokes.The number of employees now allocated to managing the data sources has dropped from7 to 4, saving money and resources for the utility. Once the GIS becomes the hub creatingcustom reports for analysis becomes very straight forward and also reduces man-hours increating the report because the data is brought together in one location.Managing the OutagesDispatchers for utilities process a tremendous amount of information during an outageevent. • Who is out of power • Where are the crews (Tree and Line) • Which crews have been assigned to which areas • Are crews clear of a line being re-energized • Answering phone calls coming in from customers to report outages • Communicating with crews • Planning where to send crews as the outage event progressesWithout GIS this job can be chaotic at best at the beginning of an outage event. With GISthis job is very hectic at worst. The GIS allows the dispatcher to remain organizedresulting in clear decision making, not to mention the correct decisions are usually madebecause of data being organized in the GIS then being outputted to the dispatcher in aformat he/she can easily disseminate very quickly.See how a GIS makes life easier on the dispatcher by bringing together the data sourcesshown below:Figure 3
As you can see in Figure 3, IVR and Web applications help in the communications withcustomers improving the service customers receive from the utility. AVL allows thedispatcher to see where the crews are located at all times to improve safety of the crews.The AMR/AMI and IVR calls also give the dispatcher an accurate picture of the currentstate of the outage event allowing him/her to leverage utility resources to restore thepower to the customers in the most efficient manner.To state the obvious, the less time the customer is out of power the more revenue theutility captures and the higher customer satisfaction. Another benefit to having a GISwith regards to Outage restoration is when it comes time to create statistical reports onthe outage, man hours can be decreased as much as 90% - 95% from my experience. Thiscan translate into thousands of dollars in savings to the utility.