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(the eye of hurricane Lili slamming the Louisiana coast)


Every year electric utilities suffer the wrath of hurricanes that sometimes tear their systems  apart. Many of our clients have to deal with this impending threat every year. Our friends and clients in the Carolinas have been spared from major damage this year but the same cannot be said for Louisiana. Between 1900 and 1996 Louisiana was hit directly by 25 hurricanes. Cleco Power knows all too well of the destructive damage a hurricane can have on an electrical system. Cleco Power is a regulated electric utility company that serves more than 250,000 customers and operates over 2,000 megawatts of regulated generation. Cleco Power has a service territory that covers approximately 14,000 square miles, its distribution system contains approximately 10,953 circuit miles, and has over 1,200 miles of transmission lines.

The Outage Management System used at Cleco Power was co-developed by Cleco Power and Coulter Mapping Solutions, Inc. and is a modified version of CMS’s AVTrouble Trouble Call System. Modifications to AVTrouble were necessary to support the data model of Cleco Power’s in-house developed GIS editing system and multiple Distribution Operation Centers. The functionality supported by CMS’s AVTrouble and Cleco Power’s OMS remained identical.  

After Tropical Storm Isidore and Hurricane Lili, a category 2 storm, made landfall, Cleco was able to put their Outage Management System (OMS) through the test. We asked Cleco Power about the hurricane damage and how the Outage Management System faired.

How many customers were affected by the hurricane?
Approximately 170,000 of more than 250,000 customers lost power during Hurricane Lili. This is 68 percent of our customer base.

How long did it take to get all the customers on line again?

The restoration effort took six days.

Were outside crews brought in to help with repairs?


If so, how many crews from how many utilities?

Sixteen companies including utilities and contract companies assisted with restoration efforts. Over 1200 workers from eight states helped restore power.  In addition, over 900 tree trimmers from seven states assisted with tree clearing efforts.  

How many customers called in?

During a five-day period (Oct. 3-7), Cleco's call center received 152,512 calls.  This average of 30,500 calls per day compares to a "normal" daily average of 2,400 calls.

How did the OMS help with the disaster?

Because OMS groups all customer calls associated with protective devices in a circuit, one benefit of the system was identifying "nested" outages on newly restored line sections. As customers reported service outages on newly repaired circuits, crews were sent to those specific areas to pinpoint and repair problems. This also allowed dispatchers to utilize workers in the area to restore power quickly to customers.

The system helped report customer outage counts more accurately and timely. Team leaders reported restoration updates in each of the four areas of the service territory twice daily. This information was sent to emergency service agencies, the media, and city and state officials.  

The OMS software gave storm team leaders a better snapshot of outage situations. Distribution leaders knew the extent of the storm damage and dispatchers quickly determined which areas of the service territory were hardest hit and deployed workers to those areas.

Before Cleco had OMS software, how would a similar disaster have been handled?

In past storms, a worker in each of our Distribution Operation Centers (DOC) tallied and logged customer outage counts manually.  The DOCs control the crews and work completed in each division. Typically, Cleco operates three divisions but the extensive damage from Hurricane Lili prompted distribution team leaders to establish a temporary DOC to lead restoration efforts in the heavily damaged south central area of Louisiana.  Had Cleco not had the OMS software, at least four employees would have worked solely on tracking and updating customer outage counts.

In the past, workers identified "nested" outages manually. Line crews restored a circuit and reported the completed job back to the DOC where workers manually recorded the work.  If a customer reported an outage from a newly repaired circuit, workers manually reviewed completed job orders to determine if the call came in before or after the restoration. The time stamps on the OMS system immediately informed the workers as to when work was completed on a circuit.  


(Cleco crews working hard to restore power back to customers)


(Evidence of the destructive force of hurricane Lili)




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Last Modified: Friday, February 11, 2011