Dominion Power Is Ready For Trouble
Dominion Power has been working through a hurricane for the past two days, testing emergency response systems.
Hurricane Jessica only existed on the computer screens in front of the individuals responsible for dealing with the approach, arrival, and aftermath of a hurricane. For the first time, the media was invited to see where the information Dominion reports during a storm comes from.
Mulcahy: The is actually the emergency preparedness center. I would consider this to be system incident command.
Pam Mulcahy is Director of Dominions Regional Operations Center. The room in front of us filled with large computer screens and a dozen or so people watching them.
Mulcahy: The system storm center is responsible for pre-storm planning and then post impact execution. So what we do is we’re monitoring the weather, we’re watching for any potential storm threat. Today we had hurricane Jessica which hit the coast of North Carolina, tracked up very similar to Isabel in 2003. It impacted over 1.3 million customers.
Most of the screens show maps. They track everything from the wind and rain, direction and speed, to the latest power outage and what’s nearby to fix it.
Mulcahy: People, get ‘em in the right place, make sure that all the logistical needs and materials are available and ready to go before impact. Then post impact we’re assessing, monitoring the number of outages, where we most heavily impacted, insuring that we get out the appropriate safety messages, and we’re coordinating both internal and external communications.
Hurricane Jessica and the two day drill are, she said, really testing three things.
Mulcahy: The first is getting resource decisions made, pre and post deployment, getting the crews where they need to be, we’re doing our patrol efforts. So a lot of the activity occurred yesterday to get the resources where they needed to be. And then today we did a storm conference call, very realistic. Went through all of what we’ve done to prepare, what today’s safety message is, what we expect to do throughout the restoration. And then the third thing is the packaging effort. That’s going on today. The effective matching of resources to the work, getting it dispatched because work packaging is critical to our being able to provide the most accurate information for the customer because I know when your lights go out you want to know when they will be restored.
The power company also showed off its new 38 foot tractor trailer. A quick response headquarters on wheels.
Edwards: All the capability of a larger office just in a smaller package.
Chip Edwards is a technical specialist.
Edwards: Through our vehicle tracking system, which we know where all of our vehicles are, we know where all the outages are, so we can track the location of the crews, the location of the outages and try to more efficiently provide restoration and try to package the right work to the right people and get the work to ‘em in an efficient manner.
Once the Hurricane Jessica test has passed, the people involved will sit down and consider how things turned out.
Mulcahy: We always do a post storm critique both in drills and in real life. We’re always going to go back and say, this went very well, here’s where our opportunity areas are for the next time.
John Ogle, WCVE News