Crews from FirstEnergy Corp.'s Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison utilities are now using smart phones and laptop computers to more efficiently assess damage to the electrical system and help expedite power restoration efforts in the wake of major storm events.
When severe weather causes power outages, Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison personnel make it a priority to identify and address safety issues, such as downed wires and other hazards, as well as conducting an initial assessment of the damage to send back to dispatchers.
To help expedite this process, FirstEnergy has developed two new apps that employees can use on mobile devices to automatically enter damage information into the company's outage management system.
"The new storm restoration apps are part of our ongoing efforts to enhance service reliability and help reduce the duration of power outages following severe weather," said David J. Karafa, vice president of Distribution Support for FirstEnergy. "These apps automatically transfer information from the field into our utility outage management systems, helping our dispatchers to prioritize hazards to help ensure public safety, direct the appropriate crews to damaged locations and restore the most customers to service in the shortest amount of time."
The new hazard app on company smart phones allows responders in the field to take photographs of damage, electronically document hazardous situations, identify trees that need to be removed before repairs can be made and provide comments about the scope of the damage, all to help clear the hazards quickly. In the event of a downed wire, the responder will remain on site to guard the area until the proper crew arrives to clear the hazard.
Once the hazard assessment is complete, repair crews can use the new damage assessment app on company laptops to develop an itemized list of materials and equipment needed to make repairs at damaged locations. The app uses a highly detailed map showing Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison circuits, complete with the location of poles, transformers and other pieces of electrical equipment.
More than 550 FirstEnergy employees in Ohio have been trained to use the new apps and have been issued company smart phones or laptops for use during storms.
The new apps have been deployed at all of FirstEnergy's utilities, which can help speed the restoration process when crews from one FirstEnergy utility travel to another to provide mutual assistance following severe weather.
Ohio Edison serves more than 1 million customers across 36 Ohio counties. The Illuminating Company serves more than 750,000 customers across Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties. Toledo Edison serves more than 300,000 customers in northwest Ohio.