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The ULTRA Award: Honoring Leaders in Information Technology

Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 1997

megawatts during peak days. It claims a power factor of one has been achieved on many circuits and at the substation buses.

Runner-Up: APS

A vertically integrated electric utility serving more than 735,000 customers, Arizona Public Service Co. runs a $1.6-billion business in transmission and distribution that nets about $122 million.

Selected as runner-up, APS won acclaim from the ULTRA judges for its Construction and Maintenance Management System, or CAMMS, which combines software systems for work management and trouble calls for the T&D system, plus a geographic information system (em linked with "soft" interfaces to the company's existing financial and customer information systems.

The first CAMMS unit, known as "Maximo" (the T&D work management system), implemented in November 1996, draws on off-the-shelf software to provide for the initiation, scheduling and management of all T&D resources. The package allows for integration of work management systems for T&D and generating plants. Overall, the three CAMMS elements are interfaced using WD2, a customer middleware developed by APS to assure a coupled, but not too tightly integrated interfacing.

The second element, the Trouble Call Management System, analyzes the most probable cause of an outage, based on customer calls, and automatically transmits an electronic trouble order to a truck in the field. When customers complain of "no power," the call moves electronically from call center to CIS to TCMS, identifying the customer, the outage and any special conditions.

The GIS segment, the third element, is another off-the-shelf solution, providing the data base that supports the balance of CAMMS.

Honorable Mention

Three other utility companies received honorable mentions from the ULTRA judging committee: Commonwealth Edison Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and Union Gas/Centra Gas Ontario.

The judges recognized ComEd for its Online Home Energy Audit, offered over the Internet (, to allow customers to analyze energy needs and run bill-impact scenarios to evaluate appliance purchase decisions. The software verifies the customer name and account number, then accesses billing information stored in ComEd's billing databases. A questionnaire asks customers about climate control, appliances and even recreational loads. ComEd promises an online response within five seconds. ComEd's online energy audit went "live" on Aug. 1, 1996, logging thousands of completed surveys in the first few weeks.

A mobile workforce management system, won mention for SDG&E. The company's SORT, which stands for Service Order Re-engineering Team, schedules customers appointments, provides real-time access to status information for work orders and the vehicle fleet, and alerts field workers to emergency conditions and potential missed appointments. It features more than 300 mobile data terminals for field workers responsible for turn-on services, gas services, electric outages, meter work and collections.

SORT ties into the company's paging system. It processes more than 1.2 million orders per year, employing the latest advances in high-speed data over radio equipment, mapping, paging and pen-based mobile computing. SDG&E estimates cost savings of between one-half and one hour per day, per field worker.

In a wide-ranging project involving most of a combined 3,500-employee workforce, Union Gas Ltd. and Centra Gas Ontario, Inc., planning to merge on Jan.