In 2020 we shared with you our strategic focus on improving electric reliability. As a quick reminder, we aim to improve our electric system reliability by 30% by 2025 and 50% by 2030 without raising our members’ electrical rates. Below is a brief update on our progress so far; the results are looking good!
Strategy – Evaluate the lowest-performing overhead lines and strategically relocate or bury them.
Over the last 2 years, we have buried several of our worst-performing/hardest to access electric lines, and we have three projects to bury in 2022. Our focus has been on main lines that impact many members over a larger region. Over the next couple of years, most of these projects will be completed, and our focus will transition to electric lines that have significant impacts but to smaller, more localized areas.
Strategy – Streamline our vegetation management process to ensure we have the right equipment, tracking systems, crew structure, and skillsets to proactively trim in the highest need areas on a shorter cycle.
At the end of 2021, we restructured our Vegetation Management Department, acquiring additional specialized equipment and bringing on new team members with the goal of significantly increasing the number of miles we maintain each year. Over the last 5 years, we have already improved from an average of 125 miles to over 200 miles trimmed annually—and with our newest initiatives, we have a stretch goal of reaching 300 miles in 2022! This new goal is a 50-mile increase over our initial target of 250 miles. If we can achieve this level of mileage on an annual basis, our cycle (the time between trimming a given area) will decrease from a legacy of 12 plus years to close to 5 years, creating a safer environment for our employees and a more reliable electric system for everyone!
Our power suppliers have upgraded multiple substations and transmission lines, providing us more capacity to switch electric loads around during outages. We have also installed 60 new pieces of sectionalizing equipment to limit the size of outages and have added fiber communications (remote control) to nearly three dozen downstream devices!
What Does It All Mean?
There are many components to reliability, but the industry standard is to measure how many minutes each Member/Customer is out of power on annual basis after factoring out various components that are outside of the control of the distribution utility (such as tornadoes or major ice storms). These major events typically occur only a couple of times each year and result in significant disruptions no matter what. In 2020 our controllable System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) was over 27% less than our benchmark, and 2021 our SAIDI was nearly a 33% improvement! We also had our most reliable month ever this January!