When severe weather causes power outages, identifying and clearing downed wires and other hazardous situations, along with an initial assessment of the damage, is a priority. "Safety is our top priority", said Dennis Pavagadhi, JCP&L Director of Operations Support.
To make use of the latest technology, JCP&L has two new apps that employees can use on mobile devices to automatically enter damage information into the company’s outage management system. In the past, this process relied on paper maps, hand written notes and phone calls between field responders and dispatch offices.
The new hazard app on company smart phones allows responders in the field to electronically document hazardous situations, identify trees that need to be removed before repairs can be made, provide comments about the scope of the damage, and take photographs, all to help clear the hazards quickly. In the event of a wire being down, 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 mobile computers to develop an itemized list of materials and equipment that will be needed to make repairs at damage locations. The app uses a 2 highly detailed map showing JCP&L circuits, complete with the location of poles, transformers and other pieces of electrical equipment.
“The new storm restoration apps are part of our ongoing efforts to use advanced technology to enhance service reliability to customers and help reduce the duration of power outages following severe weather,” said Tony Hurley, vice president of Operations for JCP&L. “Because the information will automatically be transferred from the field to our outage management system, these new tools should help our dispatchers prioritize hazards and direct the appropriate crew to the damage locations where we can get the most customers back on in the quickest amount of time.”
About 70 JCP&L employees have been trained to use the new hazard app and have been issued company smart phones for use during storms. About 40 employees have been trained on the new damage assessment app and have been issued company mobile computers. Additional employees are expected to be trained next year.
The new storm restoration apps complement JCP&L’s previously announced plans to invest $251 million in 2014 on service reliability enhancements and other work. The new apps were field tested at JCP&L and are expected to be rolled out at other FirstEnergy Corp. utilities beginning next year.
"At the end of the day, it's about our customers" said Mark Jones, JCP&L Vice President External Affairs. "This is just another step in our continuous improvement."