Utility preparations for outage response and restoration are an ongoing and constant challenge. Throughout the year, outages cause disruption to the delivery of power and ultimately cost money through lost revenue and damage.
“Most utilities handle the controlling authority for switching and tagging through their Control Centers during day to day operations. During major storms some utilities continue to maintain control in the same manner, while others have seen improved restoration times without compromising safety by relinquishing control to field operations,”
Much of the preparation for an outage is focused on weather damage that may occur from a variety of natural events and disasters. One natural event that occurred in 2011 was the catastrophic Joplin, Missouri tornadoes. These tornadoes struck down in May of last year and were one of the deadliest events in over 60 years, injuring 1,000 and killing over 150 people.
Tina Gaines, Director, Engineering & Line Services at The Empire District Electric Company was involved with the outage restoration and management for the Joplin, Missouri tornadoes. At the marcus evans Conference, She will discuss the lessons that were learned from this particular event, “It is my responsibility to obtain and coordinate mutual assistance during these events. In this disaster, Kansas City Power & Light (KCPL) were able to assist us with this process” said Gaines.
Finding the closest neighboring utilities is key to managing customers. Utilizing the relationships between neighboring utilities to assist with outage response activity is crucial to restoration efficiency. “Since this tornado was in a very focused area, we were able to get help from our neighbors. KCPL responded and stayed, despite having significant damage in Sedalia from the tornadoes that struck down in their area a few days after the Joplin tornado.”
Ensuring that utilities are receiving accurate data is also essential for providing customers real-time information through various communication and social media outlets available. Ike Pigott, Communications Strategist & Company Spokesman at Alabama Power has been a part of the social media strategy that the company created in order to enhance their restoration communications and efforts.
Due to the growing social media trends, many utilities are taking advantage of these various platforms to extend the ways that the customer can receive outage information. “We launched our Facebook page in February to use as a platform for outage communication, storm preparation and safety. We have also used Twitter to answer our customers as quickly as possible” said Pigott.
Coordinating between customer service and distribution departments to deliver the most correct information through customers’ preferred platforms is vital to best business practices. Alabama Power’s new strategy includes communicating their social media strategy to relevant internal divisions to understand which channel, message and goals work best and breaking up social media efforts across the company works well to give each division their own page.
marcus evans invites Outage Management, Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity professionals to join in this cutting-edge, peer-to-peer conference that examines best practices in the Electric Utilities industry. In addition to two days of conference sessions, attendees will have extensive networking opportunities with their peers.
For more information on this conference or to get a complete list of speakers, sessions or past attendees, visit http://www.marcusevansch.com/