The Sunday Read: Fossil Fuels and Aging Infrastructure

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South Africa’s economy could collapse thanks to the high cost of coal. Most plants in Azania are coal powered and have an aging infrastructure. Nuclear, natural gas, renewables and hydroelectric power are also used to produce the nation’s need for 40,000 megawatts of electricity, but even combined, they could not keep up with demand if the coal-fired plants are taken off-line.

In contrast, Natural Gas is largest source of America’s power producing plants. 35% of electricity is generated by the native vapor. And while 27% of America’s power comes from coal, 38% comes from nuclear, renewables and other sources. Even if coal was taken out of the equation, the power generated by natural gas and nuclear could theoretically be ramped up to satisfy demand.

What should South Africa do? Many of the coal-fired power stations are built right next to coal mines. The coal arrives to the power stations on overland conveyor belts. Could this kind of coal production be up-scaled since it saves time and money? External sources of coal are also transported to the power stations via rail and trucking but at a significant price.

More attention should have been paid to the South African electric producing infrastructure. It’s a lesson for us all- fossil fuels are limited, and the price can fluctuate dramatically. What ways can we arrive at sustainability and still provide future power? Using the ARCOS suite to help manage work and work resources is a start, but these large-scale questions still need investigation and answers before tomorrow grows dark.

The Sunday Read: Smart Devices a National Security Risk?

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The Sunday Read once again focuses on cyber security.

According to GCN, Princeton researchers have developed algorithms that would help the electric grid quickly recover from overloads induced by attacks on high-wattage smart devices such as air conditioners.

Who would have thought that an air conditioner could take out a portion of America’s power?

What other devices in the internet-of-things haven’t we thought of? Are utilities prepared for any form of cyber-attack? Is redundancy and snippets of code enough to protect our vital critical infrastructure?

The Sunday Read: Paradise Lost

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When the wildfires ripped through Paradise, California, 86 people were dead and the town was left in shambles.

Many lessons were learned.

This article from Energy Central is a good one to share as it gives the whole view of what happened, when, and how we can plan for future fires.

If you are looking for ways to be compliant with California’s new wildfire mitigation legislation, contact us. 

We should never let this happen again.

The Sunday Read: The High Cost of Airline Strikes

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Strikes are not unknown in the airline industry. British Airways troubles last week are just an example.

Does it really have to be this way? Over 1,700 cancelled flights? Flight perks removed for pilots for 3 years?

ARCOS Ascend and RosterApps can help by automating labor rules and empowering employees to perform their own shift management. It’s one step that can bridge the gap between unions and carriers by keeping grievances to a minimum and the yoke of labor agreements stable.

We hope the negotiation table stays open and a resolution found soon. It’s costing everyone including the customers.

The Sunday Read: A Thanks for Hurricane Mutual Assistance

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ARCOS loves it when a plan comes together but we love it even more when utilities unite under a common cause.

There is no group who is more giving and willing to go the extra mile than today’s linemen and women. We see it time and time again when a hurricane blows into America’s coast. They put their lives and families on hold to help other families and communities in need, often hundreds of miles away from their own. They risk life and limb to serve others without a concern for overtime or the hazards they are about to face.

There is no other industry who has this dedication to resource sharing and the dispatch of mutual assistance convoys to the weather-stricken places where there are needed most. Business competition and trade secrets are put aside for the common good – and even though capes are not permitted on the job, we can still see them flapping on the backs of these heroes in defiance to the crushing strength of the hurricane wind.

Thank you. Thank you for making your job look easy. Thank you for your long hours, the time spent without your children, and the sacrifices your spouses make. Thank you for making our lives easier through your hard work and incredible diligence to restoration efforts. Thank you for being true first responders and facing the things you see with courage, strength and a commitment to making lives better as soon as possible.

ARCOS is proud to serve this industry and provide solutions that not only turn the power back on faster but make situations safer for the men and women doing the work.

Hurricanes like Dorian don’t stand a chance when we face them together.

Bring it on Mother Nature. We’re ready for you.



The Sunday Read: In the Face of Disaster, Energy Companies Go Above and Beyond

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The ARCOS Sunday Read has talked before about defining the responsibilities of a utility company to their community. It’s more than restoring power. It’s about restoring lives. And it’s going on right now in Dayton, Oh.

After Memorial Day tornadoes ripped through the city, the Vectren Foundation – part of CenterPoint Energy – awarded Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dayton and Rebuilding Together Dayton $300,000 each toward their disaster recovery efforts. This money is designated for survivors without means to get their homes repaired.

Utilities care about their customers. There’s no doubt about it. ARCOS salutes the Vectren Foundation and CenterPoint Energy for being there for the communities they serve.

The Sunday Read: How Dedicated Are Utilities To Sustainability?

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Recently, when Pugent Sound Engery’s CEO, Kimberly Harris, stepped down, the investor-owned utility hired, Mary Kipp, former president and CEO of El Paso Electric. The transition is marked as a rarity since a woman CEO is being replaced by another woman CEO, but another striking note is Kipp’s advocacy to combat climate change. As Kipp said in a recent Seattle Times article, “As a utility, we don’t set public policy, but we find the very best ways to comply with it.”

Sustainability is a major issue for utilities and an uphill business and economic struggle. Con Edison took it seriously and with forethought in 2013 when they began building a sustainability strategy. Through an EPRI report, they defined 20 issues they must face. Safety and health, cyber and physical security, energy reliability and resiliency are some of the essentials that need to be addressed.

ARCOS is helping by providing full situation awareness. Through our suite of products, utilities can gain data that can share how many crews are out there, where, and what teams may be closest to the problem. If the data is analyzed, work flows can be established that save on fuel costs, emissions and could answer other sustainability questions.

What does sustainability mean to your utility? Is it on your radar? Are you dedicated to addressing concerns about the future now?

The Sunday Read: Being Strategic About User Adoption

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How is your organization driving User Adoption of new technology? The key to eliminating a sea of questioning faces, fuzzy logic, and an adherence to old processes starts with a strategy. ARCOS has a few suggestions on how to make the transitional road to a different technology successful and a little less bumpy.

  • Share an outline with the entire company of any changes way before deciding on an implementation date. This ensures that everyone from the receptionist to those traveling or in the field know what’s coming.
  • Tell them why. Define exactly why a certain piece of technology is being brought in, how it will impact what they do, and the benefits of having it. Buy-in is most successful when staff realize how it will make their life easier.
  • Schedule a Q&A with all employees. Take note of anyone who is fearing the change or is having issues with someone moving their cheese. This is the time to share training, implementation dates, and when roll-out is expected to be completed.
  • Train the employees who had the most problems accepting the incoming technology first. Give them special care and make the questioning group evangelists for the product by the time training is over. Consider allowing them to become the technology leads on the new system with the responsibility to train others.
  • Provide a schedule of feedback and sharing. Let your team know that you care about how the new tech is working for them in their environments. Let them share any problems they are having – but always drill down to a solution during any discussion of dissatisfaction. Don’t let questions dangle. Listen to their input and really contemplate what they say could bring a resolution to their issues. Act upon what they share. Make the meetings happen weekly, then monthly and finally every 3 months.

User adoption can be tricky but if you have a plan in place, any problems that bubble to the surface won’t come as a surprise. You can create a smooth transition for every member of  your crew and team. Seamless user adoption is possible.

Learn more about ARCOS’ implementation methods here.







The Sunday Read: Substations as Community Hubs

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Seattle City Light has it right. Substations provide reliable power but why not use the energy hubs to add to a community’s life, character and aesthetic?

The Denny substation is a new take on what substations can be. It’s a 44,000 square foot, solar paneled architectural wonder that includes event spaces, public art and even has an off-leash dog park.

When you are building something for the city it serves, shaping the power structure to attract business and promote neighborhood togetherness is a great way to show you care and are serving your customers well. Bravo, Seattle City and Light! ARCOS salutes you!

What do you think the future of power utilities will be? Is it the responsibility of a utility to take on the role of being more than just a power hub in their communities?


The Sunday Read: Being Summer Smart about Grids and Meters

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Summer can be brutal. The demand for power can cause all kinds of fluctuations, critical failures, and customer frustration. We know as heat waves roll in, problems are inevitably going to pop up but are they more manageable than initially thought? Is technology allowing us to be more flexible in distribution and demand methods and taking care of hot spots?

Yes and Yes. The smart grid and smart meters have made a huge difference in how energy is consumed and administered. New software is even being developed to handle peak loads by analyzing the data from both and giving us control right where and when it’s needed. And it’s not just in the power industry- this technology is also being appropriated for the water and gas industries.

Looking forward, a system like this can be easily integrated with the ARCOS suite. A special kind of forecasting could be forged where an upcoming outage could be predicted and crews automatically called out and managed to fix it instantaneously. Can you already see the smiles on customers faces? Air conditioners stay on and everyone stays cool in more ways than one.

It’s very smart to be smart about our smart grids and meters.