Equipment & Technology Reduce Costs
Platte-Clay has installed state-of-the-art equipment to help minimize outage restoration time, to help members manage their account and energy use and to save on your cooperative’s operating expenses, which helps keep rates low.
Increasing efficiency is the name of the game.
By digitizing the detailed service area maps and identifying the electric system components by location, crews can identify damaged equipment, take the necessary replacement components to the location and restore service quicker, thus reducing outage time.
The automated telephone system and computerized database allows members to manage their account by phone or computer, saving personal time.
Two-Way Auto Communication System (TWACS) Saves Operating Costs
Early to adopt an efficient two-way automatic communications system, Platte-Clay rolled out the new two-way communication system (TWACS) meters to members in a three-year project beginning in 2004. The meter change-over was completed in 2006, the end of an era that required members to read their own meters each month.
The benefits of the TWACS meters are increased efficiency, accuracy and reduced costs.
TWACS meters operate by sending a signal over the existing power lines from the meter directly to the co-op. Developed by St. Louis, Mo.-based Aclara, formerly called Distribution Control Systems, the meters give the co-op comprehensive location data, including use, for the monthly billing.
One of the important member benefits is the ability to use TWACS to detect and verify outages. In addition, the system is interconnected via the interactive voice response (IVR) unit–the automated telephone system–to the co-op’s online outage map which tells dispatchers where crews are needed. In short, it gives members the same outage information as the co-op dispatchers. Members can check on co-op outages and know that an outage in their area has been reported and follow along as service is restored.
Other operational benefits provide increased efficiency and accuracy, real time meter readings, monitoring voltage and blinking lights, remotely connecting and disconnecting meters and detecting meter tampering.
In short, Platte-Clay has added technology to its operations to help increase efficiency, thus saving on operating costs by blending resources and databases which helps increase reliability and reduce outage time.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System
The Interactive Voice Response System (IVR) is a powerful and efficient customer service tool that allows members to access their account, to pay their electric bill, to find out their account balance and when necessary, to quickly and easily report an outage.
The system can process 20 calls at a time, thus reducing delays and unanswered calls. The IVR ties to the electronic database that logs outage locations, a feature particularly important during a widespread outage, usually caused by strong storms rolling through the Northland.
The IVR prompts members to enter their location or phone number. Once logged into the system, each outage report is plotted on an electronic map which helps dispatchers coordinate crews and repairs with real-time information.
Members who use the IVR assist in pinpointing problems, ultimately reducing outage time. Using the IVR system to collect standard data associated with an outage allows dispatchers to work with crews who will be methodically restoring service.
The system has the capability of telling members that an outage has been reported and can make outbound follow-up calls, if necessary, to confirm that service has been restored.
Geographic Information System
This sophisticated system uses the Global Positioning System to provide an accurate and detailed description of all electrical system components, including model, age, location and preventative maintenance schedules.
The GIS system is particularly important during an outage, as it gives the line crews the specific equipment needed to restore service.
All line technicians are equipped with rugged laptops and now have access to the electronic database that includes a frequently-updated map and Platte-Clay’s GIS data.