Georgia Power taking steps to improve storm performanceBY KRISTIAN HAMMOND
This summer, Georgia has seen a major heat wave as well as thunderstorms that have caused problems for power in homes — and Georgia Power Company says that its storm center is taking every measure to make sure they are running efficiently for customers.
The Georgia Power Storm Center is broken down into various teams that all work together to help in critical times. Weather is monitored at all times to ensure that they are ready, officials said during a tour this week of the storm center.
Each unit deployed is equipped with a large truck with a bucket for the workers to ride in that can reach up to 55 feet in order to get higher and repair lines. The trucks are also equipped with wenches that can lift up to 750 pounds in order to lift trees or poles out of the work area, and are electrically tested on a regular basis to ensure that they will not be damaged by high amounts of electricity.
“Georgia Power has about 600 of these trucks,” said Bob Aylwin, with the Georgia Power Training department. Everyone who uses a truck has to go through about four years of training.
“We start planning for action days ahead in advance depending on the storm,” said Aaron Strickland, Georgia Power’s storm director. “We would rather be ready and a storm not happen than not be ready when it does. There is a lot that goes into this so that we can assure the most safety for our workers and the community. We get ready so that we do not have to work in bad weather so that our workers are not worn down, though if we have to work in bad weather, we do.”
The Georgia Power Storm Center works with Georgia Emergency Management Agency, in order to ensure that they are able to get all information possible about power outages or downed tree. Once power outages are reported due to storms, the storm center is able to track the power outages and then determine the cause and dispatch the necessary teams for relief.
“Damage assessment teams look at the situation and give us priorities. Emergency facilities such as hospitals, fire stations, gas stations, and supermarkets always take priority,” explained Randy Dees, a project director with Georgia Power. “We try to look at what is best for the community as a whole and put it above all else. Luckily, with everyone having cell phones that is less of an issue, but we definitely put the community before the individual.”
In larger, more critical events, the storm center’s manpower tracking team may ask for assistance from sister companies or mutual assistance around the southeast. The sister companies work together to provide relief, and continue to help each other in the future. The manpower tracking team determines who can come and divides the resources accordingly. The manpower tracking team tracks where the arms units are, where else they are needed, and how to divide the manpower in each critical situation.
“The manpower tracking team assures we have the most efficient schedule to get lines repaired, and power back up,” added Strickland. “We also provide our services to help when we are needed, much like when the wind storms did damage across the Ohio valley.”
Working with each team along the way is a logistics team. The logistics team ensures that those working in the field have the supplies they need.
“The logistics teams are a key part of the storm center,” said Steve Lewis, a project manager with Georgia Power. “The logistics teams supply the arms units with supplies they will need such as tents for shelter, food, sanitational facilities, laundry facilities, lighting, medical needs, and generators. Sometimes the project is small and the logistics team deployed only has to supply these needs in small amounts, but at other times they can supply essentially a small city. The logistics team is a big part of restoration because it supplies workers with everything they need from making sure the work site is safe and clean of debris to providing shots for allergies and diabetes. Their goal is to keep the workers fed and rested and healthy.”
In anticipation for future storms and heat waves, the Georgia Power Storm Center and its many teams have taken many measures to increase efficiency.
“We are now armed with two mobile command centers that we acquired after Hurricane Katrina wiped out the storm and operation center in Mississippi,” said Strickland.
These are “used around the entire state to travel with the storms and prepare us with work plans and arms unit dispatch orders, Strickland explained. The mobile command team breaks the fieldwork down into smaller pieces.
“We also now have a Twitter site along with our regular website where our customers can post their storm sightings or power outages and so that we can track it and figure out a solution,” Strickland said.
“Customers can also call in their power outages. Our dispatch is active 24/7 so that we can be ready at anytime. All of these things have increased our efficiency and changed the way we help our customers for the better, and will help greatly with the heat waves and storms of the upcoming season.”