Utilities are constrained in their response to outages by the sensors and the information currently available to them. SCADA systems typically extend only to the substation. Remote Fault Indicators (RFIs) provide further insight into the distribution network, but are limited in number. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) offers opportunities for enhancing a utility's ability to identify and rectify outages. By definition, AMI is the only system that extends to the extreme ends of a utility network, sensing every line segment and transformer on the system. This capability can be used not only to pinpoint outages but also to verify power restoration, enabling utilities to proactively identify customers whose power has yet to be restored. Outages reported by other systems such as SCADA and DCMS (Distribution Control and Monitoring System), or by the customer directly, can be then explored to determine the extent of the outage. Because AMI systems improve the processes of identifying the cause and location of outages, the appropriate personnel and equipment can be dispatched, reducing labor and truck roll costs. Additionally, certain truck rolls can be eliminated by verifying that some customer reported outages are not due to utility problems, but rather due to customer equipment issues.
In this use case, the DOC (Distribution Operations Center) dispatcher uses individual customer outage information to reduce the duration of an outage. Data can be taken directly from the customer’s meter or via the Edison SmartConnect Network Management System (NMS) that monitors the status of customer meters, to determine the extent of the outage. Using this data from Edison SmartConnect as an input, the utility is able to use other systems to locate the most probable failure point and can potentially re-configure the distribution network to minimize the impact of the fault and possibly the number of critical customers affected by the fault. The fault location is also used to dispatch repair crews to the trouble areas to facilitate restoration of power to the remainder of impacted customers. Upon repair, the distribution network is re-configured back to their original positions.