SOURCE: marcus evans

marcus evans

September 24, 2014 11:02 ET

Managing Restoration of Critical Utility Infrastructure

Interview With Kimberly Smith, Director, Emergency Preparedness at ComEd

ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwired - Sep 24, 2014) - Each year, power outages create on going challenges that ultimately lead to lost resources, time and revenue. Therefore, in order to restore power quickly to customers it is critical for utilities to enhance their current mutual assistance, damage assessment and emergency management efforts.

Kimberly Smith, Director, Emergency Preparedness at ComEd recently spoke with marcus evans about key topics to be discussed at their upcoming 14th Annual Outage Response and Restoration Management (ORRM) Conference, October 20-22, 2014 at the Grand Hyatt Buckhead in Atlanta, GA.

What did you learn about your restoration process from the 2011 storm(s)?

KS: That we needed to improve most importantly our communications to our customers. We needed to improve our Storm CAIDI and also reduce the length of time it takes to restore that last customer.
In addition, the ability to bring on mutual assistance earlier in the storm event was of necessity.

Any new innovations to your restoration process that came directly from dealing with the 2014 storm(s)?

KS: We are currently looking at Damage Assessment I.T. applications.

Did the relationship and coordination with mutual assistance partners and contractors change from the 2011 storms to the 2014 storms in any way?

KS: We have increased the number of Mutual Assistance FTE's we have been able to release and we are receiving more than in the past. Our on-boarding has improved with our newly redesigned External Crew Mobilization (ECM) room and participation in that room from representatives of our Contractors of Choice. Also, we have recently joined Southeastern Electric Exchange (SEE). 

Does ComEd use any storm or weather forecasting/predictive modeling in determining resource and crew staging efforts?

KS: We use historical data and a color code model that was built by partnering with our weather service. Based on the color code we receive from our weather service, we determine the number of resources we will need to manage that particular event.

What, if any, efforts has ComEd taken to improve ETR? (Estimated Time of Restoration)?

KS: This continues to be an on ongoing effort for us. A major focus, and the reason for the creation of our internal Storm Communications Dashboard, is to ensure that we are broadcasting consistent messages during storms across all channels and audiences. We also implemented iFactor to more effectively communicate outage information to our customers and we put new metrics in place for our larger storms: % of Jobs/Tickets with Multiple ETR's and % of Jobs/Tickets with Expired ETR's. We also have an ETR philosophy where we establish a global (initial) ETR at either 6, 12 or 24 hours depending on the amount of customers that are out of service after the storm front has passed. Then at different stages of restoration, we will bulk upload ETRs at the Operating Center level, the device/transformer level and then at the customer/ticket level.

How, if at all, has your Emergency Preparedness group been affected by the ComEd smart meter/smart grid rollout?

KS: Currently, day to day on a blue sky day we can 'ping' a meter to confirm customers are restored prior to our crew leaving the area. We can also send a mass ping out to multiple customers later in a storm event to confirm customers are on or off and either send a crew or save a trip for a crew. We are in the early stages of smart meter integration into our outage management system and have quite a bit of work yet to do in this area.

As Director of Emergency Preparedness at ComEd, Kimberly is responsible for oversight, development and execution of emergency preparedness and response strategies for ComEd and in collaboration with sister companies PECO in Pennsylvania and BG&E in Baltimore.

ComEd is an energy delivery subsidiary of Exelon Corporation and one of the largest utilities in the United States. Headquartered in Chicago, ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or about 70% of the state's population.

As the longest running meeting in the marcusevans Energy Series, the 14th Annual ORRM Conference will provide vital information and strategies for utilities to enhance their mutual assistance coordination, emergency management, distribution technology and reliability metrics. For more information, please check out the conference agenda or contact Tyler Kelch, Marketing Coordinator, Media & PR, marcus evans at 312-894-6310 or Tylerke@marcusevansch.com.

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