Survey: Customer calls, not smart meters, lead in outage notification

Source:BRIDGE Energy Group

Outage Reports by Source - BRIDGE Energy Group survey shows customer calls, not smart meters, still primary source of power outage notification for utilities

BRIDGE Energy Group has announced the results from their utility industry survey on Outage and Restoration Management. Despite the fact that 81% of utilities claim to have smart meters deployed, 58% of respondents still primarily rely on customers for “blue sky” day alerts and 54% rely on customer notification during storms. Only 16% of utilities surveyed use their smart meters as the primary source of power failure alerts on blue sky days and 12% during storms.

BRIDGE surveyed over 20,000 utility employees about their views and experiences in outage and restoration. A sampling of findings includes:

  • SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) remains the secondary source of power outage information with 26% of utilities relying on it for blue sky day alerts and 32% during storms.
  • 41% of respondents indicated that integration of related systems was the biggest impediment to OMS (Outage Management System) related projects.
  • Approximately one quarter of utilities are not calculating ETRs (Estimated Time to Restoration) and 22% are unhappy with the quality of ETR results.
  • 22% of respondents were dissatisfied with the quality of IDAs (Initial Damage Assessments).

“For the past three years, we’ve seen almost half of survey respondents indicate that the integration of systems is the biggest impediment to OMS related projects,” said Forrest Small, VP of Grid Reliability at BRIDGE Energy Group. “It’s no surprise then that feeding outage notifications from smart meters to the OMS is not widely implemented at this point. Unfortunately, simple integration can lead to false positive notifications, which obscures real outage information. Utilities need to have availability of knowledgeable staff in this particular area to maximize the potential of their smart meter investment.”

“One of the key outcomes of a successful Outage and Restoration Management program is providing accurate ETRs to customers,” continued Small. “As the tech-savvy consumer more actively engages in online and social media platforms, they expect real-time information and updates. For a utility, simply knowing where an outage is located is not enough for the 21st century energy consumer.”

Forrest Small will be presenting more information from the survey along with other outage and restoration management strategies at the 5th Annual Outage Communications Conference on May 6-7th in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Download the full Outage and Restoration Management Survey report here.

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