Insights > Savings and successes: Entergy Mississippi's reliability wins

Savings and successes: Entergy Mississippi's reliability wins

05/13/2024

Providing customers with power they can depend on, at a price they can afford is a longstanding mission of Entergy Mississippi. Data shows the efforts the company has put forth to maintain reliability and affordability over the years have yielded great results – allowing more investment in infrastructure and better performance.

Success in Entergy Mississippi’s reliability efforts is particularly evident in data comparisons from 2022 to 2023. Entergy follows an industry standard to capture outage metrics, measuring the frequency and the duration of outages. Year to year, there was a 19.5% drop in the number of outages customers experienced. Plus, the average length of each outage decreased by 9% – or 8.5 million customer minutes.

The industry method excludes data from some severe weather events, such as the tornadoes that impacted the Mississippi Delta, in order to reflect the most common circumstances.

No singular sweeping change brought the improvements to the utility’s performance. Instead, it was continued execution and increased spending in reliability programs.

Collective efforts

Over the last five years, Entergy Mississippi’s investment in recurring reliability programs aimed at improving power delivery has increased by 14%. Notably, the FOCUS program – which stands for find, observe, collect, understand, and succeed – allows teams to study outage patterns for feeders and devices, and essentially find solutions to reduce interruptions. From engineers to operations coordinators to lineworkers, the FOCUS program works because experts with different talents come together to solve a targeted issue.

“Sometimes the solutions we find are simple fixes like replacing an insulator. Other times we have to pull in more resources. But the most important part is that the FOCUS program allows us to really zoom in,” said Philip Ozier, senior manager, engineering.

During this time, crews have completed 271 FOCUS projects. To understand the effectiveness of the completed project, we make before and after comparisons of the number of device outages and customer interruptions. These projects have successfully reduced outages for customers who get power from the upgraded devices by 62%. “Our continued investment and execution in this reliability program has helped us avoid 90,000 interruptions for our customers. Our teams are immensely proud of that,” Ozier said.

An increase in self-healing networks has also contributed to better performance. Self-healing networks include equipment that automatically isolates a circuit and restores power to a portion of the customers impacted by a circuit, without human intervention. This helps shorten outages and reduce the number of customers impacted by an outage. Entergy Mississippi investments have tripled the number self-healing networks in the service area over the last three years.

Commitment to reliability programs like FOCUS and self-healing networks help make the greatest performance improvements across the grid, while keeping rates affordable.

Pole savings

Also significant to affordability, power delivery teams have successfully turned what could have been a $13 million distribution pole replacement project into a $3.6 million effort. They did it by cleaning up data, outsourcing appropriately, and geographic strategy.

Historically, Entergy Mississippi approached aging distribution wood poles in a manner that scattered teams across the service area, treating or reenforcing some poles and replacing others. Despite ongoing replacement efforts, by 2023, our systems indicated a backlog of nearly 3,000 poles needing to be replaced.

But, just as the poles were scattered, so was the data. Entergy Mississippi dedicated analysts and engineers to comb through the information, discovering just 780 poles needing replacement.

 And while replacing a distribution pole can cost $17,000 on average, power delivery teams identified efficiencies in its engineering approach and reduced construction labor by targeting poles by region. The cost per pole was eventually reduced to just $5,000.

“Not only have we gotten the backlog down to under 200 poles since last year, these poles were just identified 6 months ago. The savings and this new replacement process benefits our customers by allowing us to tackle aging distribution poles on a quicker cycle,” said Randy Vaughan, director, project delivery.

The $9 million in savings from the pole replacement project helps Entergy Mississippi continue its pledge to provide affordable service, by allowing the company to invest in more reliability programs.

Fortifying for the future

While celebrating the strides made in bolstering electric service reliability, Entergy Mississippi is also monitoring evolving challenges posed by intensifying weather events.

The Mississippi Forestry Commission’s discovery of more than 12.5 million dead trees across the state compounds the threat to our grid. Our crews have already seen the effects of ferocious weather and drought-impacted trees during this year’s weather events. Comparing the first three months of 2024 to the average from the previous three years, outages caused by fallen trees are up by 160%.

While Entergy Mississippi maintains vegetation in our right of way, many of these outages are caused by downed trees outside of our right of way.

With this challenge in mind, our dedication to power growth and provide reliable service remains strong.


Mississippi Editorial Team