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Co-ops attack SAIDI, boost safety with automated callout

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According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity sales growth among co-ops is surpassing the electric utility industry as a whole. EIA research shows the industry saw a more than one percent decline from 2015 to 2016, whereas co-op sales rose by about .50 percent. That statistic stands out in a report titled “America’s Electric Cooperatives,” which the NRECA posted to its website this spring.

The association’s report also states 84 percent of U.S. electric co-ops had a net increase in members (i.e., 295,995) in 2016, which is the most recent year reported. An uptick in customers, while always good news, can affect a utility’s System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI), which is the total annual duration of outage interruptions per customer. The nature of co-ops means employees regularly go the extra mile to restore power because their customers are neighbors too. When the scale of restoration requires more people than currently available, technology can play a role. Read More

Utility resource management puts employees’ evolving skills in play

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Deploying technology is a smart, safe way to shorten restoration. Here are a few examples. At ComEd, managers simulate different field staffing scenarios, so they can pivot to meet changing conditions and quickly respond with the right crews. At Alabama Power, mobile damage assessment technology eliminates multiple handoffs of maps and notes between storm coordinators, damage evaluators and field crews. Mobile damage assessment gets the right resources to the right place, which trims costs and compresses restoration time.

Efficiency stems from having well-ordered processes. And technology can improve the speed of carrying out good processes.

But take stock of your team’s skills, too. Skills are like static electricity – stored energy, ready to go. The key is turning the static into kinetic energy.

Here’s an example: Utility employees’ storm roles should evolve to take advantage of newly acquired skills such as drone pilot. Imagine managers calling out someone (who normally works as an accountant) to assume his or her storm role as a wire guard. Since the last time the employee was called out in this capacity, the worker happened to earn an FAA remote pilot certificate. That’s a valuable skill that might expedite restoration if the employee were reassigned as, say, a damage assessor. And knowledge of that evolving skill set is something to factor into the real-time demands of the situation. Read More

Cyber security and the cloud of protection

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Cyber Security

By Ted Schneider

In June, I’ll attend EEI’s Annual Convention in San Diego where I’m excited to hear Robert Herjavec, founder of information security firm Herjavec Group and Lead Shark on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” talk tech. Security is a passion of mine. The second person I hired for the ARCOS CloudOPs team was a cyber security engineer. A little over a year after joining ARCOS as its CTO, I watched the Ukraine fall victim to a hack of its electric infrastructure.

Since then, the number of discussions about security that we’ve had with clients has grown exponentially. Security requirements are mushrooming. And groups inside utilities dedicated to cyber security are ballooning. Maintaining security is a moving target, though. It’s more than minimizing downtime; security is about giving your organization and technology a multi-tiered buffer zone allowing time to ignore, trap and reject the negative intrusions or loading. Read More

ARCOS Heroes: CU plant saves supervisors hundreds of hours of work, readies for emergencies

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CU Springfield_Frederick Johnson

Pictured is City Utilities of Springfield Maintenance Supervisor Frederick Johnson at his desk inside the John Twitty. Energy Center reviewing an automated work roster in the ARCOS Callout and Scheduling solution.

Willy Haffecke, David Nelson, Frederick Johnson, Tracy Carter, Carol Jordan and Sherri Baxter aren’t widely known beyond City Utilities of Springfield (Missouri). But they’ve saved their utility hundreds of hours of work annually and ensured CU is able to communicate emergencies in seconds, not minutes or hours.

In 2016, Haffecke, the director of Power Generation, and Nelson, an outage planner/scheduler, along with their coworkers implemented the ARCOS® Callout and Scheduling solution at CU’s John Twitty Energy Center, James River Power Station, Noble Hill Landfill Renewable Energy Center and McCartney Generation Station to automate the forecasting, planning and call out of electrical, mechanical and operations personnel. Read More

Still doing damage assessment manually? When you do the math, Manual Damage Assessment doesn’t make sense.

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Doing the Math

After Irma, we did a little digging into the impact automated damage assessment can have on a utility. After a string of Nor’easters we are reminded again of the impact effective damage assessment has on restoration efforts.

A recent conversation with executives of five, top North American utilities revealed that, on average, during a major event, a full-time equivalent (FTE) for restoration costs roughly $2,500 per day, including meals and lodging.

The first nor’easter hit on March 2.  According to ABC News, on March 9, 500,000 people were still without power. While utilities conduct assessment and restoration in tandem, reducing restoration by just one day can have a big impact on sending out the right crews to fix damage faster. Read More

North American utilities make ARCOS Conference hub for fine-tuning emergency preparedness, resource management

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Columbus, Ohio – March 1, 2018

From March 4 – 7, 2018, in San Antonio, ARCOS® LLC will host nearly 200 attendees from North American utilities at the 15th-annual ARCOS Conference where industry speakers will present what they have learned about improving reliability, boosting emergency response and reducing restoration time. Rudy Garza, senior vice president of Distribution Services & Operations for CPS Energy, the nation’s largest municipally owned energy utility, will deliver the keynote.

This year’s agenda includes roundtables and scenario-based training with experts in emergency preparedness, operations and ICS management from gas, electric, power generation and water utilities including American Electric Power, NiSource, Southern Company and industry groups such as the Edison Electric Institute. Presenters will show how they’re able to quickly respond, restore service and report on outcomes daily and during major events using cutting-edge tools for assessing damage and automatically organizing and deploying resources and crews. Read More

EEI Response Awards Released for Harvey and Irma

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The Edison Electric Institute Response Awards were announced February 7th and we could not be prouder of the recipients!   EEI gave two types of awards – one to utilities that responded and one to utilities that assisted.  It truly takes a village, and investments in resilience and efficiency to effectively meet the industry’s mission to provide safe, reliable, and affordable service.   Congratulations to you all – and a special salute to the utilities that are members of the ARCOS family.   

Storm Snapshot: Honoring Excellence in Power Restoration

Entergy Utility Truck Read More

What’s your damage assessment strategy for renewable energy assets?

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According to a recent article in The New York Times, Xcel and other power companies nationwide are rapidly and strategically positioning for wind turbines and solar panels that generate less costly energy than coal-fired plants. In fact, Xcel says it’s rapidly becoming cheaper to build (and generate energy from) wind farms and solar plants than rely on coal. As these renewable plants come online, how will utilities and their partners handle emergent work and assess damage in the wake of major events? Read More

Introducing the ARCOS Storm

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We live in a time where a solution is available for every problem.

Sometimes it is difficult to find the right solution, to the right problem, at the right time – this is exacerbated when the options are spread far and wide, and might only address parts of the problem you are looking to solve.

So, ARCOS thought, how can we help utilities, from multiple industries, with unique problems they are individually facing, find what they need NOW? With this question in mind, we came up with a concept to illustrate an event that takes place across multiple utility types to show from start to finish how our solutions can address the full cycle of the most severe problems you may experience. That concept – The ARCOS Storm.

Hurricane Eye Read More

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