How NOMA Helps Restore Power when Disaster Strikes
Posted on 08/19/2020 at 11:29 AM
How Do Electrical Utility Cooperatives Share Finite Resources?
When disaster strikes and power is lost, electrical utility companies mobilize to restore power to their customers as quickly and safely as possible. This often requires that multiple organizations communicate effectively and consider resource allocation to plan ahead. Unfortunately, because of access to finite resources and personnel, sometimes one public utility company isn’t enough to handle all of the power outages.
National Outage & Mutual Aid (NOMA) is a service that provides a communication platform for Electrical Cooperatives around the United States. This allows these organizations to request assistance in the form of supplies, trucks, technicians, and more when they need it most. The program also provides forecasting information and multiple state-of-the-art Statewide Outage Electrical Outage Reports and Mapping. These resources assist with resource planning to help restore power as quickly and safely as possible.
How it Works
NOMA utilizes a direct connection with the outage management systems (OMS) used by cooperatives, municipalities, and investor-owned utilities. This data feeds The National Electrical Outage Map to display outages in near real-time and support a direct connection with the nation's leading OMS vendors.
The National Map refreshes automatically every 15 minutes. NOMA provides a tool for these organizations to cooperate and share outage information. This means that members can be better prepared by viewing live and historical storm paths to predict outcomes and prepare crews in advance.
"We LOVE our statewide outage map in Iowa! Most of our distribution co-ops now automatically report outages to our statewide map. Now, we’re pushing for all of them to automatically report within the next year or two. On a statewide level, the map really helps us communicate to media and legislators during severe outage events.
A nationwide electric co-op outage map would go far in showing how we all work together to power the lives of our members. You can view our live statewide map here: https://www.iowarec.org/outages/ We had a major storm system move through the state today, but with one click, I can see that everything is okay with our co-op infrastructure. This is a very useful tool for us."
- Erin Campbell, Director of Communications & Certified Cooperative Communicator (CCC), Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives
How are Outages Reported?
Many electrical providers utilize Outage Management Software (OMS) to monitor the status of their electrical meters.NOMA currently has integration with the following OMS Vendors: NISC, Futura, and Milsoft. Electrical cooperatives using these OMS systems can send outage data to NOMA automatically. Electrical outages can also be reported by electrical cooperatives manually through an online form. NOMA’s website states that they are willing to work with other vendors as well. We are always open to building integrations with additional OMS Vendors.
Mutual Aid & Resource Management
The website offers excellent (albeit limited) information to the general public. However, members enjoy exclusive access to various in-depth communication tools. NOMA members have the ability to request and share resources, show other members what resources and personnel are available, and get real-time updates to ongoing and developing issues as they happen.
Share Crews & Resources between Cooperatives
NOMA’s mutual aid and resource management features provide the ability to submit and fulfill cooperative requests for crews and equipment. Cooperatives can quickly and easily share resources while keeping accurate records of the support provided.
Transparency & Collaboration
The mutual aid features provided by NOMA bring a wealth of possibilities of national collaboration and transparency to the rural electric industry. It is fulfilling the cooperative principle of "Cooperation Among Cooperatives" to a level that has not been achieved before.
Damage Reporting Tools
Gone are the days of collecting and comparing damage reports. NOMA’s damage reporting tools provide statewide associations with the ability to gather data electronically. This data is coupled with any relevant historical outage and mutual aid data into a consolidated, clean report package. This package can then be provided to your state emergency agency or to FEMA upon request.
Global Reach’s Role
Global Reach Internet Productions has been supporting the electrical industry with advanced web development since 2011. The firm has built a firm understanding of the rural electric industry through these relationships. By listening and communicating with rural electric associations across the country, Global Reach began to learn of a shared desire for more connection and communication surrounding electrical outages. The experience and knowledge placed Global Reach in a unique position to build and accomplish this communication dream. Our custom development experience meant we had an obligation to create a platform to meet the communication needs of the rural electrical utility industry.
Statewide Electrical Association Outage Map Examples
How to Join
Do you represent a vendor who is interested in joining the (nearly 300) member Cooperatives working with NOMA?
NOMA members across the country currently have access SPIA Index & Weather Alerts, Outage Map Displays & Full Access, or the Mutual Aid programs. Signing up for the service is simple: visit the NOMA website and complete a brief form to begin the process!