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DTE Energy talks outages, AMI and the clear, blue sky

As summer gets hotter and more wild weather rumbles across the country, Intelligent Utility asked DTE Energy’s Patricia Armbruster, principal process management facilitator in distribution operations, about her utility’s outage management plans, from restoration to “blue sky” outages.

Armbuster will be talking more in-depth about outages and AMI in the upcoming Itron-sponsored webcast on Wed., June 26 at 1:00 pm ET. (You can click here for more information or to register.)

You can get a preview of Armbruster’s insights below.

Intelligent Utility: What are the top things consumers expect after an outage? 

Armbruster: Consumers expect to be notified of the outage and to be given an estimated restore time. They also want to know the cause of the trouble because they do not want to be a frequent outage customer.

Intelligent Utility: How does AMI figure into the faster outage recovery equation?

Armbruster: When a meter loses power, it will send out an alarm. This alarm will generate an outage event in the outage management system.  A crew will be dispatched to the job within 20 minutes. At DTE, we no longer have to wait for the customer call. Having the capability to obtain instantaneous voltage reads has allowed us to send the right crew the first time resulting in a decrease of “OK on arrivals.” We now have the capability to ping a meter or group of meters to determine the state of the meter at any given time.

Intelligent Utility: What lessons have you learned from DTE's AMI installation?

Armbruster: As with any new system, we had to test prior to implementation. My advice would be to start small with implementation phases. Also, validate personnel are following current established procedures prior to implementation. It’s also wise to establish a daily communication route with implementation team and primary users. And, of course, be prepared for the unknown. For example, removing a meter that has been in place for over 30 years and installing a new AMI meter can result in broken blocks or loose connections.

Intelligent Utility: What specific business metric improvements have you experienced?  And what are they?

Armbuster: CAIDI has improved significantly. Utilizing the timestamp from the meter vs. when the crew calls in to report the restore can have a significant impact on the restore time.

Intelligent Utility: What specific business process changes have you made as a result of implementing AMI technology?  And what are they?

Armbuster: Dispatchers now obtain instantaneous voltage reads prior to dispatching the job to a crew. These voltage reads will indicate high, normal, or low voltage. Reads will also indicate single or 3-phase meter. Overhead/underground lines perform “circuit pings” prior to leaving the jobsite to detect “trouble behind trouble.” Electricians call the 1-800 phone number prior to performing restoration work. We’ve also implemented proactive communication based on AMI power outage notifications (PON) and power restore notifications (PRN) with business customers.

Intelligent Utility: Looking forward, what process are you evaluating for potential change, and what do you expect the benefit to be?

Armbuster: If an outage is confirmed to be 100% restore, the system would pre-populate the “close outage” dialog box with the date and time of the power restore notification using CAIDI rules. This should assist in reducing our restoration time. Also, providing the crews the capability to obtain instantaneous voltage for adjacent meters, instead of just job specific, should assist in reducing our restoration time.

We expect to see voltage monitoring events assist power quality in determining trouble circuits. Plus, we will have the capability to auto disconnect via customer billing system for police/fire jobs prior to job being dispatched. This would reduce truck rolls to allow crews to work on other jobs, while improving a safety issue. Additionally, when a power restore notification is received, an auto voltage check would display the results in the chronology of the job.  This would eliminate the need for a dispatcher to perform the task and wait for results prior to closing out job.

We also expect to see proactive outage communication based on PON’s and PRN’s with residential customers. This will improve overall customer satisfaction.

Intelligent Utility: Has AMI helped in “blue sky” outages and if so how?  

Armbuster: Yes.  PON’s and PRN’s perform better with less competing traffic in the network,which allows us quicker outage notification resulting in quicker response time.

Intelligent Utility: What customer benefits have you seen?  

Armbuster: We’ve seen improved restoration time, instances where customers were restored without even knowing they had a power outage and improved customer satisfaction.


To hear more, listen in on the free webcast on Wed., June 26 at 1:00 pm ET. (You can click here for more information or to register.)

Kathleen Wolf Davis's picture

Thank Kathleen for the Post!

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