Improving service and enhancing the grid
Distribution System Plan
A major component of the Application is the Distribution System Plan (DSP). Distribution System Plans, as prescribed by the OEB, are the backbone of the new approach to rate setting. DSPs outline capital investments, including proposed and planned projects, which are designed to provide timely value to customers by aligning reliability and service quality with customer expectations.
Distribution System Plan is designed to support the achievement of the four key OEB established performance outcomes:
Customer Focus: services are provided in a manner that responds to identified customer preferences.
Operational Effectiveness: continuous improvement in productivity and cost performance is achieved; and utilities deliver on system reliability and quality objectives.
Public Policy Responsiveness: utilities deliver on obligations mandated by government (e.g., in legislation and in regulatory requirements imposed further to Ministerial directives to the Board).
Financial Performance: financial viability is maintained; and savings from operational effectiveness are sustainable.
What we've heard from customers
In developing the DSP, we undertook a survey in 2021 to gather feedback from customers regarding priorities related to their electricity service.
Key findings of the survey include:
- 88% of respondents want to receive timely notices for maintenance that might disrupt service
- 85% of respondents believe EPCOR should renew aging infrastructure to support community growth
- 84% of respondents want EPCOR to reduce the number of outages/fluctuations overall
- Reliability (83%), affordability (78%) and fast response to outages (75%) are the top three customer priorities.
Where we're investing
Responses to our customer survey align with our investment priorities of renewing infrastructure, utilizing smart devices and enhancing grid technology that will help reduce outages, improve communication and make the system more efficient.
Here are a few examples of investments that align with customer priorities:
Reliability/Speed of Response: Despite EPCOR's best efforts to maintain a reliable system, the service is still subject to unplanned outages from events like storms where trees fall onto power lines causing a faulted condition. We plan to deploy smart devices and remotely controllable switches to faster locate a fault and restore service at a quicker rate. This could also be a more cost effective and safer response because less time will be spent in the field searching for the fault.
Timely Notice: While our online outage map provides information on an outage location and estimated restoration time, we plan to implement more communications options for customers to receive up-to-date information in real time. This may be in the form of two-way text or chat functions, whereby the customer can receive updates on the outage, as well as provide pertinent information they may have, such as pictures of failed electrical equipment, fallen lines, etc.
Support Growth: We have been implementing grid technology solutions that are essential to maintain safety and reliability with the complexities introduced by electric vehicle charging behaviours and exported energy from batteries and solar PV. We have developed a plan to continue upgrading, modifying and keeping secure these grid technology solutions in order to maintain pace with the growing distributed energy resources.