Editor's Note: The article below appears in the CoServ pages of February's Texas Co-op Power magazine. Since its publication, CoServ has calculated its 2019 SAIDI (System Average Interruption Duration Index) number, and it has improved further – to 32.5, which means our Electric Members were without power on average about 32 minutes. Greg Ward, CoServ’s Senior Vice President of Field Operations, said many “unsung heroes” are behind CoServ’s commitment to providing reliable service. “Sometimes it can be miles of line that are unseen from the roads,” Greg said. “There’s a lot that goes on there that people don’t realize helps keep the lights on.”
By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ
CoServ Employees want power outages to be the furthest thing from Members’ minds.
We, of course, think about them daily.
When a disruption occurs, we respond quickly to restore service. We also investigate the cause of each outage to determine what can be done – equipment, construction or maintenance-wise – to prevent it from happening again.
These two driving forces are reflected in our most recent reliability statistics.
The average CoServ Member was without power for about 36 minutes, not counting disruptions caused by weather-related events. Even after factoring in weather-related outages and scheduled outages, the average outage duration was 48 minutes in 2018.
Over the past decade, we made a concerted effort to improve our reliability. During this time, our SAIDI score* was cut in half – a stat that’s even more amazing when you consider we added more than 100,000 meters to our system.
And while technology helps find the source of the outage, it’s the hard work and daily collaborative efforts of CoServ Linemen, Operations Team members and Engineers that set CoServ apart when it comes to reliability.
“You can’t improve reliability with technology alone,” said Robby Hamlin, Senior Vice President of Engineering Services. “You can’t make it better just by looking at reports. By far, the biggest thing that made a difference on it was whenever we had an outage or a blink, we went out and found the cause.
“That was the biggest bang for our buck right there. The way you get it [SAIDI score] down is boots on the ground. The daily grind of finding a problem and fixing it.”
Even if it’s just a minor problem, such as a switch that flips and is easily corrected, CoServ gets to the root cause and fixes it permanently, an extra step a for-profit utility might not take.
“The next time it might not come back on – it might be a full outage,” Robby said.
But it doesn’t stop there.
When workers in the field identify problems, they bring them back to an Engineering and Operations Committee and they take this into account for future construction best practices.
“We’re making changes to the way we build it so that we prevent this problem from happening in the future. It’s that full cycle,” Robby said.
Another factor that contributes to CoServ’s reliability is our comprehensive Vegetation Management program. Pruning trees and killing weeds in the summer and fall help prevent outages during spring thunderstorms and winter freezes.
“Vegetation Management is a vital component to our power quality program,” said Greg Ward, CoServ’s Senior Vice President of Field Operations. “It’s a strategic focus to mitigate potential future outages and ensure our Members have the highest level of service reliability possible.
“Utilities oftentimes either neglect or cut budgets in this area of operations. Maintaining the system and operating our equipment as safely and efficiently as possible is CoServ’s number one priority.”
* SAIDI – System Average Interruption Duration Index – is determined by dividing the outage time by the number of meters served. For 2018, the most recent year for which statistics are available, CoServ’s SAIDI score was 36.7.