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June 28, 2022

Cost avoidance as a result of automated planning

Innovative organizations are looking at integrating automated planning and risk-based asset management strategies to fit into tightening budgets, while maintaining resiliency and reliability of the power system.  That’s why a small to mid-sized North American utility (we will call them Utility X) incorporated ENGINTM, an advanced analytic solution, into their asset management strategy.

In addition to other improvements and advantages, Utility X identified annual benefits of more than 9 million dollars due to avoided costs alone, either due to reduced time spent in annual planning activities or the reliability and capital cost savings attributed to reliability cost efficiency.

Less employees required for planning - $210,000 cost savings per year

Asset managers and power system planners are finding more and more on their plates... regulatory filing preparation, documentation and justification of capital placements for both asset management and system planning is becoming more demanding.  Utility X identified a cost avoidance of up to two full time employees’ time using the automated reporting processes within ENGINTM.

Automation of manual statistical analysis  - $105,000 cost savings per year

Utility X develops several statistics for each asset class. They include 6 distribution and 6 transmission asset classes, such as conductor, underground cable, poles, transformers, switches, etc. Using ENGINTM, statistical analyses, including failure curves can be developed in moments for as many asset classes as necessary.

Accelerating system planning studies - $ 70,000 cost savings per year

Every five years, Utility X completes detailed system planning studies, which tend to be costly and time consuming. Using the many useful functions and capabilities of ENGINTM, Utility X managed to reduce the cost of the study by $350,000 over the five years.

Substantial decrease in customer interruption costs - $1,925,000 cost savings per year

Out of a total of 560,000 hours of customer interruptions in their service area, 140,000 hours (25%) were caused by equipment failure. Based on the Interruption Cost Estimate (ICE) calculator, the cost of customer interruptions totaled $77,000,000, therefore, the cost of interruptions caused by equipment failure cost $19,250,000 (25%). By incorporating ENGINTM into the planning process, the utility managed to decrease customer interruptions caused by equipment failure by approximately 10%, or 14,000 hours, translating into savings to the economy of approximately $1,925,000 per year.

Capital spend risk efficiency gains - $7,000,000 cost savings per year

The integration of ENGINTM allowed the utility to initiate a process of risk-based planning. This strategic change helped them achieve the same level of reliability for approximately 10% less spend per year of asset lifecycle replacements. Seeing as their annual lifecycle program costs range between $70,000,000 - 90,000,000, they estimate a savings of $7,000,000 per year (10%).

The cost avoidances above are just the beginning of an extensive list of benefits resulting from automating the planning process. The implementation of a risk-based asset management software also provides convenience, time savings and self-sufficiency. Utilities no longer have to depend on consultants to perform asset condition assessments, risk analyses or intricate economic studies.

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Aleksandra Modelewska has 10+ years’ experience in the power systems industry, helping electrical utility representatives navigate new technologies and innovation. She is an advisory committee member of Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE) and the Chair of CIGRE Canada’s Next Generation Network. Over the years, Aleks has managed international interest groups focusing on utility asset management, grounding & lightning, as well as protection & control and overhead line design. She has also been involved with venture growth and marketing while leading business development efforts in Canada, the USA, Europe and Australia.

As Director of Business Development & Sales at Engineered Intelligence, Aleks will help energy companies automate their asset risk analysis and power system planning.