SDG&E launches advanced outage management system


David L. Geier,
VP of Electric
Operations, SDG&E
San Diego, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — November 16, 2012 – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has launched an advanced outage management system (OMS) that will use new “smart grid” technology to speed up the detection of power outages and help utility personnel restore electricity to customers faster than ever before.

The OMS uses new computer software that provides grid operators with real time information about the status of the electric network to help them restore outages quicker. The new software enhances situational awareness of the entire distribution system and allows SDG&E to know what’s happening on the grid for immediate detection and swifter restoration of outages.

A geographic information system (GIS) has been integrated into the new outage management system, which provides highly detailed geographical images and technical data about the electric grid. In addition to localized outages, the OMS will prove useful to effectively track multiple outages during large storms to ensure power is restored as soon as possible.

“The capabilities of the new OMS will make SDG&E one of the most innovative and effective utilities in the U.S. for responding to outages,” said David L. Geier, vice president of electric operations for SDG&E. “By connecting this system to our extensive network of smart meters, we will have a comprehensive view into the real time state of the grid, which will allow us to identify and restore outages faster due to this amazing technology we have implemented for San Diego.”

The OMS leverages data from approximately 1.4 million smart meters that SDG&E has installed across the region. The smart meters send remote alerts back to the control room within seconds of an outage occurring in the surrounding neighborhood. With this data, SDG&E will know immediately when an outage happens anywhere on the system and dispatch crews to make necessary and prompt repairs. The smart meters can also send a signal to let the company know when power is back on.

In addition to smart meters, the new OMS uses other technology to bolster outage restoration times. SDG&E is continuing to install supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) devices throughout the electric system to enhance reliability overall. These devices employ wireless connections that allow remote control of switches and circuit breakers from a centralized control room. The SCADA switches can move power around problem areas and quickly restore service to many customers prior to dispatching crews to the field. The utility has installed SCADA systems on 98 percent of transmission lines and 70 percent of distribution lines, which provide electricity to local communities.

By integrating the capabilities of the smart meters, SCADA switches and GIS into one system, SDG&E will greatly improve situational awareness and electric grid reliability. Further operational benefits will be realized as the system builds out in the future, including diagnostic information that details when maintenance is required on parts of the grid, which could fix some potential problems before an outage occurs.