U.S. Power Utilities Improve Reliability for Four Consecutive Years

U.S. Power Utilities Improve Reliability for Four Consecutive Years

Florida Power & Light Co. Wins National ReliabilityOne Excellence Award for Second Straight Year at PA Consulting Group's 16th Annual Awards Ceremony

PA Consulting Group has announced that the reliability performance of the nation's power utilities improved for the fourth consecutive year.

PA introduced the findings at the 16th Annual ReliabilityOne Awards ceremony at which Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) won the National ReliabilityOne Excellence Award for the second straight year. PA also released next generation utility trends and honored eight additional utilities.

The energy industry has faced upheaval over the last several years driven by new technologies, customer demands and regulatory intervention. With the reliability of the electric system absolutely critical to the economy and to the lives of customers, new challenges are emerging for industry leaders. In the face of these challenges, top performing utilities must identify opportunities to improve reliability, storm response and customer engagement while keeping costs and rates under control.

With this challenge in mind, PA previewed its ReliabilityOne Analyzer tool and community during the ceremony. The value in this community is that it will be a curated environment where utilities can securely share information with their peers.  PA often hears questions from utilities like: What is best practice? What should I focus on to improve reliability? How much improvement will a particular project really achieve? How well am I doing relative to my peers?

Questions like these are difficult to answer without support, therefore the community will offer that support in the following ways:

  • Reliability analysis where users can visualize outage data and optimize reliability improvement plans
  • Blogging from members on their achievements
  • Posting and responding to questions from the community
  • The community will be private, moderated by PA and open to members only

"The customer reliability experience is key to moving utilities forward, it must be at the center of all that we do, from planning and prevention to restoration and communications," said Derek HasBrouck, PA Consulting Group's ReliabilityOne™ Program Director. "The leading utilities are moving away from dependency on the customer to report failure to an era in which we can now see and act on signatures of impending future customer failures – a paradigm shift is happening now that will lead us to what the next generation utility will look like going forward."

For 16 years, PA has been conducting a reliability analysis of the nation's electric utility industry based on data from the National System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI), which is the average outage duration for each customer served by power utilities. The index showed a reduction in IOU (investor-owned utility) average outage duration by almost a minute in 2015 to 108.6 minutes - the fourth year in a row with a decrease. The utility reliability trends identified are the result of PA's in-depth analysis undertaken as part of the process to identify the top performing utility and winner of the ReliabilityOne™ award.

PA's certification and analysis of the utilities in the ReliabilityOne program found that:

  • Companies are getting better at major storm preparedness. Watching weather patterns, employing internal meteorological staff, and running preparation scenarios seems to be more common. In addition they are mobilizing faster ahead of the storm and not waiting until the storm has passed to acquire restoration resources.
  • ETR (Estimated Time of Restoration) is playing a bigger role in customer communications as regulatory agencies begin to look at how outage restoration progress is being communicated to customers.
  • The Northeast (avg SAIDI 89), Mid-Atlantic (avg SAIDI 91) and Mountain (avg SAIDI 90) regions had the strongest reliability performance.
  • Performance in the Plains (avg SAIDI 107), West (avg SAIDI 107) and South (avg SAIDI 124) regions dropped with increases in both outage frequency and duration, Florida was a notable exception with the strongest results in the South.
  • Mid-Atlantic region showed the greatest improvement in performance for the second consecutive year by the average SAIDI dropping 21%. This was driven by one of the best reliability performances in the nation recorded in New Jersey.
  • National average performance and improvement was driven by midsize and smaller utilities with smaller utilities improving their SAIDI by 20 minutes in 2015 over 2014.
  • Some State Utility Commissions do not require public disclosure of utility reliability performance including Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina.
  • Technology investments continue to increase Operational Technologies such as OMS, SCADA, DMS, ADMS, GIS, field communications, as well as major event command and control software.
  • Customer expectations are being influenced significantly by other industries such as the Domino's  "your pizza's in the oven" model as well as Amazon's "your package is out for delivery," etc., requiring utilities to look at more proactive ways to communicate information.
  • Customer communications is moving quickly toward social media and related technologies for restoration updates (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SMS texting, email) plus phones. And customers are deciding their preferred method of communications instead of the utility telling them what they can have.
  • Most companies are either considering or implementing automated data collection, scrubbing, and reporting technologies for outage data to replace age old manual methods.

The ReliabilityOneT Awards recognize North American utilities that excelled during the course of the year in a number of critical industry categories including reliability, storm response, technology and innovation, and customer engagement.  PA Consulting Group's ReliabilityOneTM Awards are widely considered one of the most prestigious honors in the electric utility industry, recognizing organizations that provide their customers with the highest levels of reliability.

For the 2015 calendar year, PA also recognized six regional ReliabilityOneTM winners from utilities across the U.S. The selections were based on overall system wide performance in both outage duration and frequency. PA also recognized three winners for Outstanding Reliability Performance for Midsize Utilities. Additional categories honored included the utility that had Outstanding System-Wide Reliability, Outstanding Customer Reliability Experience, and Outstanding Technology and Innovation.

A list of all winners are as follows:

National ReliabilityOneTM Excellence Award recipient:
This year's National ReliabilityOneTM Excellence Award was presented to Florida Power & Light Company.
FPL was given this notable award for their leadership in redefining electric distribution reliability for the 21st century.  FPL has dramatically raised the bar for customer reliability from overhead and non-networked underground distribution systems.  Their approach combines both a commitment to the fundamentals, such as their $2B storm hardening investment - and the drive to push the envelope through technology, including automated outage identification, impending outage alerts, sophisticated network protection and control algorithms designed to minimize the customer impact of outages. 

This year's six Regional ReliabilityOneTM Awards recipients are:
Northeast Region – Consolidated Edison Company of New York
Mid-Atlantic Region – Public Service Electric & Gas Company
South Region – Florida Power & Light Company
West Region – San Diego Gas & Electric
Midwest Region – We Energies
Plains Region – Northern States Power Company

Outstanding Reliability Performance for Midsize Utility Award recipients are:
Midsize Utility – Indianapolis Power & Light
Midsize Utility – PNM, Public Service Company of New Mexico
Midsize Utility – The United Illuminating Company (UI)

2016 ReliabilityOneTM Award recipients for Outstanding Performance are:
Outstanding Customer Reliability Experience – We Energies
Outstanding Technology & Innovation – Florida Power & Light Company
Outstanding System Wide Reliability – Consolidated Edison Company of New York

HasBrouck added, "As PA's National ReliabilityOneTM Excellence Award winner, we recognized FPL for being a consistent top performer in the industry. FPL was honored for demonstrating that it has a tremendous commitment to maintaining reliability for their customers from every level of the organization."

The awards reception was held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, CA before an audience that included senior management of leading utilities, industry regulators and energy industry experts.

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