AEIC Announces 2022 Achievement Award Winners

AEIC is pleased to congratulate the winners of our prestigious 2022 Achievement Awards.  The AEIC Achievement Awards are presented annually to AEIC member companies, committees, or subcommittees who have clearly demonstrated significant contributions to advancing operational excellence in the electric utility industry.

President's Award Winner

PPL Electric Utilities – Innovations in Wood Pole Inspection

Summary: After a series of serious incidents exposed the inadequacies of traditional pole inspection methods, PPL Electric Utilities realized a change was needed.  The company sought to eliminate the human interpretation of pole strength and level of decay and ensure accurate and repeatable inspection methodology. Using resistance drill-based wood pole inspection technology, PPL EU ran three pilot programs to map the extent of the condition for external decay, then develop and test a new drill bit design along with software improvements to automatically calculate the exterior decay and the interior decay.

Impact: The novel resistance drill-based inspection, which is unique to PPL, has improved detection of pole failures and decay, and reduced inspection cost and duration. What used to take a five-person crew a week to complete (150 pole inspections) can now be accomplished in just two days with a two-man crew. This increased inspection efficiency allows PPL EU to be nimbler and more responsive to emergent issues and to achieve yearly inspection goals faster, more accurately and at a lower cost.

Achievement Award Winners

Summary: This project developed innovative solutions that leverage the functionality of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) to improve delivery of power to the customer.

The first solution the project developed is an Open Neutral Detection through AMI. By using a machine learning model, AMI can proactively identify open and defective neutrals and ground conditions on electric services in the field as well as customer premises.

Another project solution focused on Validating Service Restoration which utilizes AMI meters in the outage restoration process to validate outages that are considered restored. This approach does not rely as heavily on customer response and becomes more accurate as data drives the need for follow-up attention.

Impact: Con Edison’s smart meters have greatly improved their ability to provide safe, reliable service for customers while building a clean energy future. The meters provide more visibility into system conditions, so they can avoid service problems and respond more quickly to outages that do occur. Con Edison’s customers are able to get more information about their energy usage, allowing them to manage their consumption, save money, and reduce emissions.

Summary: Eversource needed to provide a back-up energy supply solution to the weather-prone Cape Cod region of Massachusetts. The traditional solution was constructing a 13-mile distribution line, which would’ve come with environmental risks and high costs.

Instead, Eversource chose to construct a 24.9 MW / 38 MWh lithium-ion battery system as the sole source of supply for a microgrid back to the Wellfleet substation. The microgrid was specially designed to size the microgrid island to maximize reliability benefit to customers based on damage location. When not required for reliability purposes, the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) can be used for peak shaving and local voltage support.

Impact: This ground-breaking project is expected to improve reliability for approximately 11,000 customers with automatic power restoration for customers in less than one minute.

Summary: This year, FPL has made significant improvements to its self-service collaborative platform for customers with construction projects. The company has designed an easy-to-use web-based tool that provides a 360-degree experience from initiation to completion of construction projects.

Additionally, FPL has made several enhancements to its Construction Services Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System including navigation in Spanish, project manager lookup functionality, and appointment modifications for up to three weeks. Finally, FPL also launched a new system that allows service planners to transfer a customer’s call directly to a customer service representative.

Impact: All of these enhancements help FPL improve its productivity and deliver faster, higher-quality customer support. 

Summary: This initiative is creating safer workplaces by transforming safety inspection data to a mobile app-based system that makes vital information more visible and accessible in real time. The app organizes, by site name, safety inspection data submitted by LJASC teams across Florida and makes the data accessible to all Power Delivery employees in one web-based location.

Impact: The implementation of the mobile app is one of the many reasons why FPL was able to achieve a record-setting year for safety in 2021. Last year, FPL reduced OSHA-reportable injuries by 52% and overall injuries by 24% compared to year-end 2020 figures. 

Summary: DPAT is a custom tool developed in partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). DPAT allows PPL to automate the checking of protection settings as the grid is reconfigured.

Impact: This eliminates the need for engineers or technicians to undertake the time-consuming process of checking protection settings manually and allows them to instead focus on continuous system improvements. DPAT has shown to reduce protection errors and improve setting quality and efficiency, ultimately improving reliability for the utility’s 1.4 million customers by creating an automated, recurring process that continually checks distribution protection settings for errors and recommends improvements when errors are found.

Summary: FORCE is a tool designed to scan imagery, identify signs of equipment defects, and be reviewed by qualified electrical workers (QEW) for possible remediation, if necessary, by using aerial image capture.

Impact: The FORCE program improves the quality of the inspection process by enhancing speed, accuracy, consistency, and time. Developed under a cross-departmental collaboration, FORCE has been an impactful tool and one of the many process changes introduced to minimize potential public safety risk, increased awareness and response times and performance

These five companies will be presented with their awards on Thursday, October 6th at the 2022 AEIC Annual Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona.