- SPECIAL REPORTS
- THE MAGAZINE
HOLDERNESS, NH - InMaps, a geospatial consulting services firm specializing in electric and gas utility applications, has completed a comprehensive upgrade of the GE Smallworld PowerOn outage management system (OMS) that is relied upon by Bangor Hydro-Electric Company to quickly restore electric service following power outages. Working on a schedule mandated by the utility, InMaps upgraded the Bangor Hydro OMS from PowerOn version 2.5 to version 4.0.
Headquartered in Bangor, Maine, Bangor Hydro provides electric service to 120,000 residential and business customers located throughout a 5,000-square-mile service territory in the south-central part of the state. The utility first began using GE Smallworld geospatial technology for a variety of applications in 1998. The system includes the utility’s entire network connectivity model and displays the relationships between distribution assets and customer locations. InMaps installed the first version of the PowerOn OMS at Bangor Hydro about 10 years ago.
“One reason for the upgrade project is that PowerOn 4.0 has a module for estimated time of restoration,” said Gary Duplisea, Bangor Hydro’s IT Supervisor. “When a customer calls to report a known outage, we can tell them when to expect service to be restored before the crew even gets there. We’re currently collecting data on outage restoration times. Once we feel that we are at a point where we can provide accurate ETR information, we will utilize this functionality.”
Other new features in PowerOn include support for nested outages and dynamic switching. The nested outage function will enable the utility to automatically track smaller outages that get masked by larger ones, but that still need attention. This information allows Bangor Hydro to have a better picture of the resources needed to restore power, helping in overall storm management. The PowerOn upgrade also provides dispatchers with a newer version of Smallworld, version 4.1. Bangor Hydro has taken advantage of the Bookmarks feature which provides an easy way to navigate in the Map Window to substations and other key locations.
InMaps won a competitive bid to perform the PowerOn upgrade for Bangor Hydro. Among the many positive factors weighing in InMaps’s favor was the fact that it had successfully completed several previous GIS upgrade and data migration projects for the utility. In addition, InMaps engaged GE Energy as a subcontractor on the project. GE Energy, with offices in Denver, is the developer of both the Smallworld and PowerOn product lines.
“InMaps has been performing PowerOn installations and upgrades for a decade, and our developers are very familiar with how the outage management application functions alongside geospatial systems,” said Langley Willauer, InMaps’s Chief Technical Officer.
Willauer explained that an upgrade from version 2.5 to version 4.0 is, in fact, a migration because PowerOn has evolved so quickly in just two versions. Working primarily from its technical facility in Camden, Maine, InMaps created an entirely new implementation of the system for the utility, and then migrated over existing data and custom applications.
“The major challenge in this kind of upgrade is finding the right balance between new functionality and existing business practices,” said Willauer. “In the case of Bangor Hydro, we worked with them to understand the sophisticated new network model and determine how to use the system to take advantage of it.”
The network model describes how all the switches, fuses, breakers, and wires are connected and interact with each other. The model is the key to determining which outage a particular customer is associated with, and therefore what information pertains to them. Dispatchers rely on the model to know how individual customers will be affected by switching operations that are routinely used to restore power sooner.
“The bottom line for the upgrade to GE Smallworld PowerOn 4.0 is that Bangor Hydro customers will receive faster outage restoration and more accurate information about power outages,” said Willauer.
Upon delivery of the upgraded OMS, GE Energy personnel conducted customized training on-site at Bangor Hydro to ensure the utility’s technical staff and service representatives derive maximum use from it.
InMaps provides geospatial consulting services for natural gas and electric utilities, with special emphasis in Smallworld systems. Consulting services include application development, technology upgrades, PowerOn support, Schematics Generator enhancements, system integration, compliance reporting, training, and on-site services. Products include GPS Locator and Dimension Toolkit. Field solutions include Automated Driving Survey (for the natural gas industry) and Mobile GIS (which gets Smallworld into the field). InMaps is a GE Energy Value Added Reseller.