Public Power - May 2014 - (Page 68)

Reliability RP3 Program Allows Utilities to Better Serve Customers By William Atkinson O ne way for APPA members to improve reliability is to participate in APPA's Reliable Public Power Provider program. The program consists of four disciplines: reliability, safety, work force development and system improvement. The 2013 APPA RP3 Procedure Manual notes that: "Reliability is a term that takes on various meanings. For most customers, reliability means dependability, trustworthiness, and 'keeping the lights on.' Although these are accurate in context, electric system reliability is broader than the results that are evident through reliable day-to-day service. " "One thing about RP3 is that it doesn't dictate what your reliability should be," said Brent McKinney, manager of electric transmission and distribution for City Utilities of Springfield, Mo., and chair of the RP3 panel. "It is more of a checklist to help utilities make sure they are using what is available to them in terms of the analysis of the reliability of their systems and benchmarking to other systems." The idea, according to McKinney, is for utilities to try to improve their reliability once they know what that number is. Participating in the RP3 program gives utilities a list of items that need attention. "The best recommendation I can make for improving reliability is to be aware of what your reliability statistics are in the first place and how you compare to other utilities," McKinney said. "Then, you can address 68 the needs of your community. Some communities may require a higher level of reliability than others, and there is often a trade-off between reliability and cost, such as costs associated with tree-trimming." RP3 helps create a positive feedback loop, said Alex Hofmann, energy and environmental services manager for APPA. "There is an old management axiom: 'What gets measured gets done,'" he said. "Good reliability is an objective for utilities participating in RP3 and since reliability comes from the construction, maintenance and operation decisions that you make over the long term, being involved in the RP3 process helps utilities maximize their opportunities for improvement." There are some aspects of reliability in RP3 that will be more challenging than others for utilities. Hofmann said these will vary by utility. "In fact, each checklist in each of the four sections of RP3 has a number of leading practices that take time and effort," he said. Another helpful feature of RP3 is that any time improvements are made in any of the four areas, the improvements often help to improve reliability overall. "For example, arranging for your employees to get more training and attend conferences will, in the long-term, also end up improving reliability," Hofmann said. On average, SAIDI performance for APPA utilities that do not have the RP3 designation is 64.22 minutes, while perfor- Public Power May-June 2014 mance for RP3-designated APPA utilities is 55.58 minutes. This means that the average customer connected to an RP3 system experiences outages that is 15% shorter than non-RP3 systems. An on-line RP3 application is expected mid-summer 2014. "The online application will make it easier for utilities to see their previous applications, which will make it easier for them to reapply," Hofmann said. "The people in the utility who are responsible for the various sections will be able to upload any of the documents that they need." With an online application in place, utilities can expect a shorter application process and better feedback from the review panel. There are five components of the reliability section of RP3. The first is the reliability indices collection. Reliability can be addressed by considering availability and resiliency-the utility's ability to supply aggregate electrical demand and energy requirements at all times, despite scheduled and unscheduled element outages-and its ability to withstand sudden disturbances, such as short circuits or unanticipated losses of system components. The second component is reliability indices use. Not only is it important to track reliability indices, the RP3 manual notes, it is equally important to use the data collected to maintain and improve system reliability. For example, some systems may use the data to decrease the amount of time between tree trimming cycles, as trees could be linked to increased outage occurrence. Participation in the reliability survey helps the utility to understand where it stands in terms of benchmarking and improvement. The third component is mutual aid, which requires a utility have a national mutual aid agreement. Mutual aid agreements are part of a utility's response plan during power outages that enable them to use the help of other utilities. Having a national mutual aid agreement is also beneficial if a utility encounters a situation where it requires Federal Emergency Management Agency funding. APPA's Mutual Aid Network helps utilities coordinate with each other during large storm events. The fourth component is a disaster plan. This plan is used to help coordinate response to emergency situations of various kinds that include large outages of customers. The plan should include information on the roles that the utility's employees will assume during a disaster. The disaster plan should be reviewed and/or revised on a regular basis. The fifth component is security, which has two includes both physical infrastructure and cyber security. Physical infrastructure security is needed to help prevent vandalism and/or terrorist attacks. It is important for utilities to know what level of cyber security they require to help avoid unauthorized cyber access and attacks.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Public Power - May 2014

Public Power Lines
CCS: A Race Already Lost?
Nature’s Bounty
Energy Efficiency Beyond the Low-Hanging Fruit
Identifying Shared Values to Bridge the Generation Gap
Feeling the Magic
Building Bridges in Twain’s Land
A Municipality’s Best Friend
Hometown Connection

Public Power - May 2014