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By Jesse Berst
A leading systems integrator predicts outage management systems (OMS) will be the next big trend at North American utilities. When BRIDGE Energy Group surveyed 14,000 utility employees, they discovered that more than half plan to upgrade or replace their OMS.
It's about time. We've had the technology for ultra-powerful OMS for many years. What we didn't have was a) meter data pouring in to help us pinpoint outages and b) the stomach to integrate an OMS with all the other systems and c) knowledgeable staff to lead the charge.
Many utilities now have the meter data even though they are still plagued by the other two problems. But the benefits now outweigh the pain for many -- especially those in storm-struck areas where politicals and regulators are on the reliability warpath. We say it's about time. Outage management is an application that can show immediate, measurable benefits that are obvious to customers and regulators. Especially if they are wired up to communicate continuous updates via Web and social media.
BRIDGE reports that 64% of survey respondents indicated that restoration management is a top priority.
"Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy demonstrate the importance of moving beyond traditional outage management to develop true restoration management capability. Knowing where the outages are isn't enough to restore power quickly and satisfy stakeholders," said Forrest Small, VP of Grid Optimization Strategy at BRIDGE. "Utilities have to process information from many sources, make good decisions in real time, and communicate clearly and continuously internally and externally. Knowing how to integrate new technologies with existing operational systems and business requirements is critical to strong restoration performance."
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Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.
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