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Cornerstone Hydro Electric Concepts

Enabling the Digital Utility

November 12, 2018

EPCOR Electricity Distribution Ontario Inc. (formerly Collus PowerStream) one of the first in Ontario to implement a full-fledged SmartMap

November 12, 2018 Collingwood, ON – EPCOR Electricity Distribution Ontario Inc. (formerly Collus PowerStream) has achieved significant operational efficiencies and improved outage response times through recent upgrades to its Outage Management System (OMS).

“We wanted to improve our outage management system to provide our customers with a more reliable electricity supply system and faster response times to outages,” said Ted Burrell, Manager, Hydro Operations at EPCOR. “With the new system, we often have a problem fixed before the customer knows there has been an outage.”

Based on Utilismart’s Digital Utility Platform, the system aggregates data from multiple third-party systems such as SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), GIS (Geographical Information System), CIS (Customer Information System) and AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) systems and produces analytics that can be used to make informed decisions.

“Historically, many decisions within a utility were made based on assumptions,” said Miroslav Karlicic, Director, Business Development and Innovation at Utilismart. “With the Smartmap utility analytics, operators make decisions based on real-time, accurate data.” Analytics are available for Outage Management, Engineering Analysis, Voltage Management, Transformer Management, and Loss Management.

EPCOR was one of the first Local Distribution Companies (LDCs) in Ontario to implement the Smart Map system using the Digital Utility Platform. Staff from all departments have access to the system including Customer Service, Operations, Regulatory and Metering.

“The more people who have access to the system and can see what’s going on the better,” said Burrell. “We’ve seen improvements across all our departments through this system.”

1.    Improved Outage Response Times– The system delivers alerts to staff when a meter delivers a last gasp (out of power) notice to the system that shows the exact location of the outage. Crews can be dispatched as soon as an outage notice is received with control room operators able to triage the outage while the crew is on route.
2.    Improved Customer Service- The immediate availability of customer data assists Customer Service staff in responding quickly and with accurate details to the situation.
3.    Increased Operational Efficiencies– Staff can be dispatched with advanced knowledge of the extent of an outage, budget resources can be allocated more accurately through use of historical data, and analytics provide a better understanding of the impact of new customers on the system.
4.    Improved Regulatory Filing– The data available in the system makes RRR (Reporting and Record Keeping Requirements) to the Ontario Energy Board, for example, easier through the access to historical, real-time data. The data also helps with Rate applications by identifying areas of improved efficiency such as a reduced number of trucks dispatched and reduced outage response times. The platform provides tools to help plan the distribution system and is invaluable when filing a Distribution System Plan.
5.    Overall View of the Electricity Distribution System – Provides an overview of the complete system indicating system connections, transformer loads, voltage issues and a real-time status of the system.

“We are very pleased to be one of the first in Ontario to implement the SmartMap,” said Larry Irwin, General Manager, EPCOR. “We have achieved considerable efficiencies and improved our customer experience. Going forward, we’re looking forward to partnering with other Ontario LDCs as they adopt this technology and move towards creating a fully digital smart grid in Ontario.”

EPCOR is a Canadian-based company that provides safe, reliable electricity and natural gas and clean water, wastewater and drainage services to more than one million residential and commercial customers in North America. The local utility is a member of Cornerstone Hydro Electric Concepts (CHEC), an association of 17 Ontario LDCs that share resources and best practices to provide efficient and cost-effective electricity to their customers.