That’s because the company and its employees have invested considerable time and resources to increase electric reliability through improved IDMS (Integrated Distribution Management System), an operational platform.
Those investments not only have paid off in fewer outages and less downtime for customers after storms, but earned an industry win for Alabama Power with the prestigious Achievement Award given by the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies on Oct. 12.
AEIC Executive Director Terry Waters will present the award to Alabama Power’s Pam Boyd, general manager of Power Delivery (PD) Technical Services, and Bill Mintz, manager of PD Technology, at a later date. Boyd and Mintz were among the nearly 1,100 company and contract employees involved in power restoration efforts after Hurricane Michael lashed the southeast and eastern portions of the state on Oct. 10.
Top honors for Alabama Power
Given annually to individuals or groups from AEIC member companies who have made significant contributions to the electric industry, the Achievement Award went to Alabama Power for its many contributions to IDMS. Thanks to the company’s commitment to improving this technology, there is increased situational awareness that allows operators in Alabama Power’s Distribution Operations Centers to be able to pinpoint what’s going on with the electric grid, greatly benefiting customers.
Before IDMS was implemented, said PD Team Leader Brock Parker, “We had a ‘swivel chair technique,’ basically three different systems used to control and monitor our grid. The system operator would use three separate computer applications to operate the distribution system. So we went from three systems that didn’t talk to each other to one system that does. All three applications are integrated into one seamless system.”
Mikel Wijayasuriya, team leader for PD Technology, described IDMS as software that rolls together the main functions used by the operator: the geographical map board, distribution automation and outage management.
“With this integrated foundation, we can layer advanced operation applications such as Fault Isolation Service Restoration, or FISR, which really helps with reliability, allowing us to get the lights back on faster for our customers,” Wijayasuriya said.
During a power outage, the integration of IDMS enables the system to sense the location of the outage, automatically reroute power and restore service to as many customers as possible.
This is accomplished as IDMS combines mission-critical functions performed in a control center into a single platform, providing improved situational awareness of the grid, improving employee efficiency of managing the grid and system disturbances; and improving the grid’s reliability. The system ties data from SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition), distribution management systems and outage management systems into a single platform while performing data analytics and converting the data into actionable functions for improved grid-management decisions. The system allows grid management in the most reliable, safe and efficient manner without human intervention, in most cases.
The U.S. Department of Energy endorses the IDMS cybersecurity architecture and application design as the direction for suppliers of real-time operational systems. Other companies in the electric industry are seeking to migrate to an integrated solution.