With a service coverage area spanning 2,100 square miles across five counties, PECO Energy is the Philadelphia-region’s largest utility, providing energy solutions to 1.6 million electric and more than 511,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania.
An Intergraph InService and Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure customer for more than 15 years, PECO decided in mid-2015 that it wanted to benefit from the latest enhancements and capabilities InService 9.3 had to offer. To increase its outage management system performance (OMS) during severe weather events, PECO also decided to upgrade its OMS architecture, including network infrastructure, new database platforms, network storage devices, and virtual hosting for OMS applications.
Here are four key lessons PECO learned during its 18-month InService 9.3 upgrade.
1. Closely Aligning Performance Requirements with Needs
From damaged transmission lines to faults at a power station, there are many causes of power failures in an electricity network. Depending on annual weather patterns and network design, outage management needs vary, and so will the requirements of an OMS. For PECO, upgrading to InService 9.3 was critical to handling increased call volumes during an event. While modernizing its OMS, PECO also upgrade its IT infrastructure, leveraging server virtualization capabilities to ensure higher availability and scalability of it.
2. Proactively Managing Change
A structured approach to technology change is critical to ensuring successful implementations and achieving long-term benefits. PECO takes change management for its IT systems very seriously. Because PECO was upgrading its IT infrastructure and its OMS simultaneously, they brought in a group of change management professionals to guide them through the processes. PECO wanted to ensure that its business customers, users, and stakeholders were fully aware and engaged with the changes in an upgrade of this size.
3. Collaboratively Testing System and Applications
Testing is essential to pushing the limits of any IT system or application. Prior to its cutover, PECO and our InService team began rigorously testing InService 9.3, including factory acceptance testing. PECO’s team travel to Hexagon’s Huntsville, Ala., offices to push the limits of InService in a controlled environment. The visit gave PECO’s team the opportunity to identify and address problems early. This collaborative process helped our InService team account for any change requirements and code patches that needed to be developed before cutting over.
4. Frequently Engaging Database Administration Team
Because InService 9.3 is a database centric solution, engaging with the InService database administration team early and often can be critical to quickly and effectively preparing for an InService implementation or cutover. For PECO, frequently engaging and working with our database administration team was essential to fine tuning their locally-hosted database.
Since PECO’s cutover in April, they have been able to use InService 9.3 in a real-life severe weather event. In early June, a portion of PECO’s service area experienced a medium-sized storm that effected 120,000 customers. PECO was able to quickly and efficiently restore power to its customers.
With more than three decades of enterprise technology experience, Kurt Nolte works with electric, water, and gas utility providers to develop solutions that serve strategic initiatives and efficient business operations.