Industry: Utilities
Product: AssetWise Asset Performance Management
User: EPCOR Utilities
Country: Canada

October 21, 2019

EPCOR Adopts Risk-based Asset Management and Lowers Interruptions Duration Index Below Regulated Threshold

EPCOR is an owner-operator of electrical, natural gas, and water transmission and distribution networks in Canada and the United States. Electric distribution systems such as EPCOR’s typically have over 100,000 assets spread out along the streets and alleys of their service territories. These assets degrade with weathering and electrical loading, and many typically have useful lives of 35 to 45 years. EPCOR historically employed an age-based and condition-based replacements strategy, waiting for assets to rust, leak, or fault electrically, to where simple field repairs or splices were no longer sufficient, before considering replacement.
A simple demographic analysis of their installed infrastructure in 2015 predicted a 74% increase in the number of assets reaching end of life over the next 10 years compared to the preceding 10 years. With a new Performance Based Rate (PBR) structure in 2018, EPCOR saw its capital spending effectively capped at an average of the 2013-2016 spend. EPCOR would need to maintain system reliability with the resources it had despite the forecasted increase in asset failures. To address these challenges, the EPCOR asset management team implemented an ISO 55000 risk-based asset management process using its AssetWise Asset Performance Management system. The system captures asset conditions and tracks asset failures to manage warehousing, direct crews, and capture costs to assets, projects, and commercial jobbing.

The project’s objective was to quantify the health of the assets and identify when to proactively replace assets that are key to optimizing safe and reliable system operation. Once implemented, this solution would minimize unplanned outages and the stress that such outages place on the rest of the aging infrastructure, and in turn was expected to reduce collateral damage to other assets. The project team conducted an asset condition assessment by statistically analyzing more than 10 years of data to develop failure probability curves and to define the statistical relationship between asset condition and probability of failure. 

Integrating SCADA data provided valuable electrical loading information in near real time. All of the information gathered from various systems, including the SCADA data, was used to create an asset health index to score the assets out of 100%, and the resulting asset health scores were shared across the organization on dashboards. By combining the health scores with the failure probability curves, the team derived a more accurate probability of failure and identified assets at risk. An in-depth analysis of AssetWise work order history also provided an understanding of the consequence of asset failures on replacement cost, damage to adjacent assets, safety, and environmental cleanup costs. When coupling this information with outage times and the electrical load data, they could predict cost and potential enterprise risk (known as annual risk cost), which provided valuable input to capital asset budgeting.

The project team analyzed 117,000 unique assets within six asset classes: aerial and underground transformers; switching cubicles; poles; network transformers; and underground cables. The current annual risk cost of all six evaluated asset classes totaled CAD$ 95 million. In addition, EPCOR’s System Average Interruptions Duration Index (SAIDI, an average measurement of how long each customer was without power) for defective equipment related outages was reduced by 43% to 0.153 hours/customer from the 2016 SAIDI score. The total SAIDI score was 0.833, well below the regulated threshold of 1.15 hours/customers.

EPCOR is also realizing sustainable, long term advantages from this project. The analysis work and its tangible results facilitated strengthening of their long-term planning for capital investments, creating opportunities for further cost savings through the ability to use long-term contracts and improved bargaining power. 

“This new process helps EPCOR identify the right actions or interventions to be applied to the right assets at the right time, improving the overall value of the services delivered by EPCOR to its customers,” said Stephen Seewald, manager, asset performance and risk management, EPCOR Utilities. “It also helps us to provide better control over system reliability and cost for the city of Edmonton, which is essential for economic development.”

752_EPCOR Adopts Risk-based Asset Management and Lowers Interruptions Duration Index Below Regulated Threshold

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