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Why so many utilities will be replacing their outage management systems

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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.

Current Outage Management Systems Not Making the Grade

More than half of surveyed utilities plan to upgrade or replace their outage management system (OMS) in the next two years according to BRIDGE Industry Survey

MARLBOROUGH, Mass., January 22, 2013 -- BRIDGE Energy Group, the leading Utility business consulting and systems integration solutions provider, today announced the results from their Utility industry survey on outage management.

BRIDGE surveyed over 14,000 utility employees about their views and experiences in outage management. Results show that 53% of respondents plan to upgrade or replace their existing OMS in the next one to two years. Additional initiatives described as top projects planned for 2012-2013 include smart metering and related infrastructure, automated feeder switching, Volt/VAR optimization, SCADA upgrades, system integration, business intelligence and predictive analytics.

The survey revealed that the current OMS project initiatives - including consideration of cloud-based solution, integrating smart meter outage inputs, and integrating OMS, GIS and EMS - are leading the push to upgrade or replace existing systems. As these initiatives are pursued, the survey further uncovered that the integration of related systems and availability of knowledgeable staff ranked as the two top concerns.

“The complexity of outage management implementations has sharply increased as the integration of smart meter data and analytics has become a core component of upcoming project plans,” said, David E. Olsson, CEO of BRIDGE Energy Group. “It is no longer enough to plan for the upgrade of a single system. Utilities are looking at multiple systems, with their individual complexities, and considering if they have the internal resources and knowhow to successfully and cost-effectively delivery on an outage management transformation.”

64% of respondents indicated that restoration management was a top priority. This fact was no doubt related to their stated goal of improving customer service as well as the cost of their outages ranging between $1 million and $30 million.

"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."

BRIDGE will be sharing the results of this survey at DistribuTECH in San Diego, California from January 29th -31stwhile exhibiting at booth #2144. The Utility Industry Survey report can also be requested via BRIDGE’s website: www.
BridgeEnergyGroup.com/
OutageManagementSurvey.html
.

About BRIDGE Energy Group

BRIDGE Energy Group is the leading Utility business consulting and systems integration solutions provider for clients in the energy industry. BRIDGE offers business and IT transformation strategy planning, program management and expert implementation services in support of key Market Operations, Grid Operations and Smart Grid initiatives across Generation, Transmission, Distribution, Independent System Operators and Regional Transmission Operators. Founded in 2004, BRIDGE is headquartered in Marlborough, MA. For more information on BRIDGE, please contact 888-351-8999 or visit http://www.
BridgeEnergyGroup.com
.