By Mark Kawalya
Ugandans have something to smile about. Recently, Umeme, one of the companies that faces frequent social media dress downs due to power outages, launched an Outage Management System (OMS). The system will streamline the power outage management process by quickly determining faults and aiding the restoration of power.
The system takes credit for Umeme’s ability to warn clients 24 hours in advance when their power will be off. This is communicated using the firm’s twitter account, enabling consumers on the national grid to prepare themselves for the outage period.
A key feature of the OMS is its ability to identify and mitigate faults on the power network quickly, thereby improving supply reliability. The system also quickly detects the location of the affected transformer, fuse, recloser, or circuit breaker, making restoration efforts more intuitive and quicker.
Additionally, the OMS will be used in resource management using critical information such as the magnitude of outages, location of emergency facilities, and outage duration. Another feature is the system’s ability to provide key metrics on the extent of outages and the number of users that have been affected, as well as calculate estimation times for restorative work.
The Outage Management System features a detailed network model of the entire distribution system, which is central to all processes. It also has a Geographic Information System (GIS) which is the backbone of the network model.
A rules engine is deployed to accurately predict the geographical locations of outages by inferring the locations of outage calls from users. As the distribution takes a tree like configuration, calls in the areas downstream of a fuse are inferred to be caused by a single problematic fuse or circuit breaker upstream of where the calls are emanating.
In a memo that was circulating on social media, Umeme informed the public that due to extreme weather affecting power utilities, the company was doing all it could to keep its customers’ lights on, necessitating an Outage Management System.
A prolonged dry spell in 2005 reduced the waterline on Lake Victoria, severely reducing the water volume that was available for generating electricity. The transmission grid is the only infrastructure that can stand against the elements of weather and since the claws of climate change are starting to dig deep, and are here for the long haul, weather-induced outages are likely to become more common. The OMS will go a long way in offering preparedness for everyday users.