This blog was originally published on LinkedIn.
On the heels of the “polar vortex,” it’s easy to imagine catastrophic storm damage causing massive outages. But, thanks to the utility industry’s tradition of helping each other out, neighboring companies would likely send mutual aid crews with the experience to help restore power.
The truth behind this scenario can be fraught with mid-storm confusion. The impacted utility wants to leverage the assistance, however, integrating all of the volunteered assistance and crews can become a burden if not managed and coordinated effectively. Adding to the outage/storm situation is the affected utility’s inability to see what’s going on within the context of their electrical distribution system. This compounds the challenge to enable the outside crews to help efficiently. However, sharing vital system and customer outage information in real time isn’t a simple task: In many cases the affected utility is not able to offer neighboring utilities sufficient access into network information without (potentially) exposing proprietary data.
So, despite the best intentions, mutual aid resources provided from neighboring utilities may snag or even slow down efforts to restore power. As a result, customers can be left frustrated and (in the case of this year’s winter storms across the Midwest and Northeast) freezing. Not a pretty picture.
But today, this storm-within-a-storm can be quickly and effectively addressed with GE’s proven and market-leading Advanced Distribution Management Solution (ADMS).
Building beyond traditional Outage Management Solutions—where we’ve helped utilities react to a call coming in or a meter telling them power is going off—ADMS lets the Distribution Control Center and the associated mutual aid restoration teams become more proactive and predictive. And as a result, utilities achieve increased customer satisfaction and improved regulatory and financial metrics, such as Customer Average Interruption Duration Index (CAIDI), a reliability index commonly used by electric utilities.
Drawing on access to operational and situational data in real time from across the enterprise, the utility can also analyze historical events and forecast the weather to anticipate what an outage will look like and start preparing for a storm in advance.
With enhanced situational intelligence, the utility benefits from:
Now, in the storm event, when the “borrowed” (mutual assistance) crews arrive, the utility is able to quickly scale up efficiently and effectively. After all, bringing in extra crews only works if you can direct them where to go and give them access to feedback from the first responders.
With the Storm Assist App on ADMS, utilities are able to rapidly scale up the number of dispatchers to effectively mobilize and direct the influx of mutual assistance crews. Then with the addition of our Mobile Outage Response App deployed into the field—a safe, secure mobile environment focused only on need-to-know information—crews have the necessary information and support to manage their work and communicate progress in near real-time. Transmitting dispatch information out to the field teams and switching data assessments back to central operations via phone, radio, and mobile devices such as tablets, Storm Assist and Mobile Outage Response are an affordable way to give and receive targeted information without increasing the cyber risk surface.
The Storm Assist modular application is built using HTML5, so it is considered light-weight from a technological footprint. Also, it is targeted so that the control room provides only limited or lighter access into a streamlined, intuitive user experience. To support visibility and situational awareness, all users share a view of what’s happening on the network (geographic and schematic), but through security and area of responsibility permissions, the software limits full access.
Greater visibility and control, delivering network-level optimization
Interoperable tools utilities need to react to and even anticipate outages, minimizing disruption of service
Enable utilities to manage and orchestrate Renewables & DERs in an end-to-end manner, via flexible deployment options ranging from edge to cloud
Let GE help you with your distributed management strategies