Storm Restoration: Electric Utility

The following stories illustrate how ARCOS Resource Management solutions can be used to manage both planned and unplanned events for electric utilities. They are loosely based on real scenarios that have occurred.

As a large-scale storm comes within hours of making impact, Ed, the Emergency Preparedness Director is anticipating the millions of customers in surrounding areas that will be affected by the event. Utility workers, contractors and additional resources are currently converging from across the country to support restoration efforts.

With a modern, cloud-based resource management system his utility installed last year, the process of resource planning and deployment from blue sky to grey sky operations has been more seamless and accessible than ever before. With the average cost of storm recovery estimated at $2,000-$4,000 per day, per full-time employee (FTE), including overhead costs and equipment, every minute Ed’s team can shave off of restoration time can be reduced or avoided. If Ed and his team can seamlessly transition systems and processes before the storm, it will reduce overall restoration time – and ultimately lower the cost to customers post-event.

The Resource Management system stores data captured from last year’s storm season to help Ed’s utility better plan restoration efforts and it’s paying off. Data captured from last year played a huge role in improving response time and organizational preparation for these events, allowing Ed’s team and daily operations to justify seasonal preparations – like tree trimming, stronger pole replacement and storm drills, along with providing information to plan for future responses.

For now, support from mutual assistance crews is on the way, grey sky operations and ICS structure is being activated and as the storm conditions change Ed and the entire response team will use technology resources to plan and scale accordingly.

ARCOS Resource Management Solutions can help electric utilities better plan for events in the following areas:

Incident Management                                         Contractor Management

Automated Call Outs                                            Damage Assessment

Crew Management                                               Mobile Inspections   

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In the wake of the storm, monitors with integrated systems give utility workers in a central location a way to manage the workflow and resources from blue sky to storm event. Managers like Eddie can shift seamlessly between the information contained on monitors in the EOC and logistical details tracked by dispatch centers.

Glancing at the large monitor above the room, Eddie notes additional caravans of crews driving the interstate toward the staging site. The storm – worse than forecasters predicted – has Eddie using a web-based resource portal to request additional crews for restoration and meeting ETRs.

Damage assessment crews have already been out for several hours surveying damage to circuits and substations from debris, vegetation, and flooding. As assessors completed surveys of circuits, poles and feeders via tablets in the field, their completed reports came in over the network and were joined with the OMS. Assessors who couldn’t establish an internet connection saw their forms race back across the network as their data connection returned. Instead of deciphering handwritten notes, Eddie saw online forms linked to addresses and circuits with details neatly checked off such as “damaged substation,” “broken pole,” and the tally for each.

Technology had taken a weight off Eddie’s and the assessors’ shoulders, but there was still much work to be done.

ARCOS Resource Management Solutions can help electric utilities better plan for large-scale events in the following areas:

Incident Management                                          Contractor Management

Automated Call Outs                                            Damage Assessment

Crew Management                                               Mobile Inspections   

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At the storm’s height, approximately 180,000 of the utility’s 500,000 customers are without power. And the storm’s wind and water has affected hundreds of thousands of customers of neighboring utilities in bordering communities and states, too. Nearly 1,000 poles have been damaged across the storm’s path. More than 10,000 personnel (contract, mutual assist and native crews) across a multi-state area have been tapped to help. The majority of storm damage had been assessed and submitted by the early crews and input into the contracted crew system. The data collected was paired with internal work and outage management systems to manage and coordinate the crews that were moving in and out of staging sites and into the field. The system accounted for every crew status, vehicle assignment and reporting supervisor, decreasing any chance of a misdialed number or hastily transcribed note on a spreadsheet to introduce errors into this herculean restoration effort.

A new batch of flood map data appeared on Eddie’s dashboard, it showed a massive surge in flooding to a zone containing critical care infrastructure, in this case a hospital. Using location data, Eddie reallocated nearby crews to move into the area and prioritize restoration. The real-time data provided by the crews meant Eddie and his utility could make decisions immediately, rather than waiting for resources and information to arrive piecemeal. In the week ahead, hundreds of thousands of people would return safely to their homes and lives due to the effort of thousands of workers in the field.

ARCOS Resource Management Solutions can help electric utilities better plan for large-scale events in the following areas:

Incident Management                                         Contractor Management

Automated Call Outs                                            Damage Assessment

Crew Management                                               Mobile Inspections   

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Eddie received an array of communications from within the company congratulating people on completing a large-scale restoration in record time. While pleased, his focus had shifted to the requests piling up from a variety of people for reports on the restoration effort and its cost, reconciling what Eddie and coworkers had asked for in assistance and what was delivered. Since implementing new resource management systems, the information was available for reporting on the calls, crews, resources and dollars making up the restoration effort.

First, Eddie provided stats for, among other things, how many customers were restored and how accurately the utility forecasted ETR; these reports went to the media via his public relations department.

Next, some grievances had been filed, but he was astonished by how few were submitted; Eddie delegated the task of researching the individual submissions and asked that reports be submitted to him by end of day. With the crew data already captured and resource management systems integrated, gathering the information went from days to hours in most cases.

The public utility commission also asked to review the storm response, from planning and staging to final restoration. They asked for a response within a month. With the integrated resource management tools in place, Eddie knew it was plenty of time to create, review and deliver the document to his managers and executives. Gone were the days of pulling information from several different systems and compiling potentially incomplete reports, reporting was now seamless, efficient and effective.

ARCOS Resource Management Solutions can help electric utilities better plan for large-scale events in the following areas:

Incident Management                                         Contractor Management

Automated Call Outs                                            Damage Assessment

Crew Management                                               Mobile Inspections   

Visual tracking of crews

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