Working smarter, not harder

By Nicholas Sakelaris | CoServ

If lightning knocks out power in your area, CoServ linemen crews drive to the site, find the problem and then repair it as quickly and safely as possible. Our Operations crews are among the best as our reliability score shows.

But have you ever wondered how they are able to find the source of the problem so quickly?

Ask some of CoServ’s long-time linemen and they remember the days when they had to “ride out the line” for miles to find the cause, following maps in an old red book they kept in the truck.

Today, CoServ’s entire electrical infrastructure is connected to a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system that provides updates in real time to dispatchers working at the headquarters in Corinth. Think of it as a nervous system for CoServ’s power lines and other infrastructure.

Much of the technology CoServ uses out in the field today was programmed and configured in the Distribution Automation Lab.

Gone are the days of searching pole after pole for problems. Now, CoServ uses a Fault Location Isolation Service Restoration (FLISR) system that communicates with substation breakers and down-line reclosers to look for faults. That system then uses CoServ’s extensive GIS (Geographic Information System) to identify where the problem occurred.

“It can locate the fault on the map precisely, within 450 feet or one or two poles,” said Joshua Lewis, Distribution Automation Manager for CoServ.

Joshua and his team spend their days configuring new communications equipment that can be deployed in the field to make our infrastructure smarter so everything talks to each other. Before it goes in the field, the Distribution Automation team puts the equipment through its paces using a high-power testing system that simulates many of the situations it will experience in the real world. 

Sometimes, power can be restored by CoServ’s dispatchers within minutes so no trucks or crews are needed at all, a major cost savings for the co-op.

“The goal of the Distribution Automation Department is to look for ways to increase efficiency in our system and extend those benefits to our Members,” said Tommy Nylec, CoServ’s Director of Engineering. “We know immediately if we can reset it from here or if we need to send someone out there.”

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