It’s not quite that simple, of course.
Engineering officer Joseph Parete is manoeuvring an aerial view of the station closer and closer, until it zeroes in on a single transformer.
Parete clicks on the image, and the image sprouts an array of coloured dots. Click on any one, and information starts popping onto the screen.
“We have Condition 4 rating on dissolved gas and oil analysis,” he said.
Is that bad?
“Really bad,” Jesus affirms.
What happens if you let it go?
“Eventually this unit may fail.”
From the transformer, the system moves on to a nearby road, lined with hydro poles.
There’s a code saying who made the pole, and a note that it has some woodpecker damage. The display shows it’s due to be replaced next year; a yellow plastic band indicates it’s to be climbed with caution. (Two bands would mean: Do not climb.)
It’s all very neat, but what’s the point?
Stevens said Hydro One already collected the information, but for years it was stored on paper, in different offices around the province.
Take the Pembroke transformer that’s not doing well. The crucial question is its ranking.
“We’ve got 300 transformer stations, we’ve got 800 transformers within those stations,” Stevens said.
“So, yeah, we’d know this one was bad. But how bad is it relative to Hanover, to Essa, to Midhurst, you name it?
“It allows us to spend the money at the right spot at the right time.”
It also allows the company to bundle work into rational packages.
If a crew is going to work on one job, managers can see easily whether there’s other work in the same area that needs doing. If power needs to be turned off in an area for several hours, it makes sense to do multiple jobs during a single outage, rather than have multiple outages.
The system cost $ 13.5 million. But with the utility investing about $ 3 billion a year, said Stevens, if it generates even one per cent in savings through better decision-making, it pays for itself in a year.
“It’s a very impressive piece of work,” said Bentley in an interview. “One of the challenges with a power system is figuring out where best to make refurbishment and asset renewal decisions. Tools like this can pinpoint what really needs to be replaced, in a cost effective way.”
Does that mean hydro rates will come down?
“You did not hear me say that,” Bentley said.