In winter 2013, Norway was hit by extreme weather in the form of several powerful storms. Trees were blown down on power lines and several hundred thousand homes across the country lost power, some for several days.
Energy companies were put to the test, yet it was a surprisingly calm communications director of energy company Agder Energi, that spoke to the press while storms battered southern Norway. “We have a very good overview of the situation from our system control centre,” stated Christian Altmann.
With 180 000 customers, Agder Energi is one of the largest energy utility companies in Norway. In October 2013, they started using Powel’s distribution management system Powel iAM DMS, as the first energy utility in Norway. Agder Energi has worked closely with Powel with the development of iAM DMS. Atle Ripegutu at the company’s department of processes and analysis has been involved in the development process since day one.
Through common innovation, we achieve great results, and Ripegutu spoke with great passion about Powel’s solution. Through various incidents, Ripegutu has found the iAM DMS to be highly beneficial both in terms of lowering their expenses and in improving communication with their customers.
Baptism of fire
“We started training our operators on the system in October, so when the storms first hit they were familiar with the system,” says Ripegutu. “Everyone knew the most important functions of the solution, which gave us a unique overview of the situation at all times.”
At their busiest, Agder Energi had 66 high voltage power lines down at the same time, and it was paramount that they got an overview of the situation as soon as possible. ”We had about 200 people on duty, from operators to technicians, working to restore the power lines,” says Ripegutu. ”In this situation, the iAM DMS proved to be a great tool. It helped us prioritise our work, helping us work efficiently and at the same time minimising the disruption for customers as much as possible.”
Ripegutu says that the greatest difference between the storms of 2011 and 2013 was that during the latest storms, they were able to restore the power supply quicker, both thanks to skilled staff and Powel’s iAM DMS.
”One of the greatest advantages with this solution is that you are better equipped to prioritise your work. With the focus on locating the errors, and then sending people out to fix them, rather than manually locating the errors we save a lot of time and man hours.”
Thanks to Powel’s solution, they were also able to organise the work in such a way that errors that effected a larger section of the population could be fixed first, ensuring that as few people as possible had to endure long waits to get their power back.
Agder Energi has used text messaging to notify their customers about problems for quite some time, but this communication was also made easier with the iAM DMS. ”Clear communication with our customers is important to us, and we have had good feedback on our use of text messaging,” he says. ”With the various systems being integrated, we are now able to pull information out of our net information system thus making the process both easier and more targeted.”
The road ahead
Ripegutu is full of praise for our solution, and gives iAM DMS an ”A”, but he says that both Agder Energi and Powel has work to do in order to fully take advantage of the solution. ”It has definitely made a huge difference to us already, but we have yet to start using all the tools offered in the application, so I think there is a lot of potential for it to do even more.”
Smart Grid promises to become more and more important for Ripegutu and Agder Energi, especially with the prospect of end users producing electricity. ”We need a grid that is more intelligent, that lets us monitor even better,” he says.
Ripegutu is excited about exploring the iAM DMS fully,”Customer and map in the same system, means a new world for energy companies,” he says.