Case Study

Nova Scotia Power assesses more lines in difficult locations with satellites and AI

AiDash

 

Netze BW realizes high accuracy with satellite and AI vegetation assessments

A more intelligent vegetation management system helps a utility company maximize their limited resources

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nova scotia power logo
  • Company: Nova Scotia Power
  • Location: Canada
  • Solution: AiDash Intelligent Vegetation Management System (IVMS)

HIGHLIGHTS

80% of AiDash IVMS measurements precisely matched ground truth assessments

Measured vegetation within 30 cm of distribution lines

Predicted improvement in contractor safety

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CHALLENGE

Worsening climate change-related weather was making it more difficult for Nova Scotia Power to manage and assess their heavily treed distribution network.

But for a narrow strip of land connecting it to the rest of North America, Nova Scotia is almost entirely surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Part of Canada, but roughly parallel to Maine, the province’s unique geography is marked by coastline and heavy forest. It’s a challenging environment for utility companies to manage.

Nova Scotia Power (NSP) serves 550,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers, which is about 95% of all electrical service in the province. “We have about 28,000 kilometers of distribution lines, so we have a lot of spans to manage,” he said. With 75% of the province covered in trees, they have to continuously work to mitigate their impact on their lines.

NSP is concerned with reliability, safety for its workers and contractors, and climate change.

The number one cause of NSP’s outages are related to vegetation coming into contact with their lines, and it’s simply a difficult logistical and cost challenge to manually inspect all their lines and feeders.

Vegetation management is generally a high-risk endeavor. Even getting people to the sites to perform assessments is high-risk, especially with the terrain NSP deals with. “We have ravines, forested areas, hard-to-reach areas,” said MacMillan. Navigating that terrain can be risky.

Nova Scotia has been hit with worse and worse climate change-related threats, too. In the past couple of years, the province has experienced two major hurricanes, an extreme cold event (that set an all-time peak load), extreme flooding events, and the largest wildfires in provincial history.

NSP wanted to become more efficient in their vegetation management and fold that back into their overall asset management strategy for understanding risk.

And with that, they aim to be proactive. They want to be sure they’re attacking high-risk areas.

Finally, they wanted to be able to demonstrate quantifiable progress to their stakeholders (internal and external) and customers alike.

“We can go anywhere with satellites. We don't have to drive 28,000 kilometers. We don't have to walk it. We don't even have to fly it.”
mike macmillan nova scotia power
Mike MacMillan
Manager - Asset Performance
Nova Scotia Power

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SOLUTION

NSP used AiDash IVMS™ to build actionable data that lets them improve and scale their GIS and reduce manual work

AiDash IVMS lets NSP collect data on all their areas quickly and at scale. By offloading this work to AI, they free up their personnel to do other tasks that humans are better at performing. For NSP, those tasks pertain to things like safety or contractor oversight.

They’ve found that the data itself is superior, too. It helps with consistency, because they can compare data they get from AiDash IVMS to what their assessors find in the field. And by pairing the satellite and AI data with assessors’ work, they’re less dependent on the experience level of any particular assessor.

NSP also folds this data back into their vegetation GIS and integrates it into their existing processes for mitigating risk and understanding feeder conditions.

AiDash IVMS enabled them to be much more efficient in sending out their crews where they specifically needed to trim—and where they didn’t.

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RESULT

NSP increased confidence in their risk assessment, improved SAIFI/SAIDI, documented improvement for all stakeholders, and improved worker safety.

The results were clear. NSP found that around 80% of the spans that AiDash IVMS measured matched their ground-truth assessment exactly.

NSP’s risk profiling is much stronger now. They can include vegetation condition in their overall risk profile and combine that with the asset condition information they glean from inspections. The span-by-span assessment AiDash IVMS provides enables much deeper analysis, and they can add in performance data around SAIFI and SAIDI.

Altogether, it provides NSP with a holistic view of where their risks are in the distribution system.

They can also target their resources much more effectively and can demonstrate the effectiveness of their investments. When they want to invest resources into vegetation management, regulators want to see what the rate payers get for that money. NSP’s own internal stakeholders want to see justification for those investments, too, so they have confidence the company is making the right decisions for their customers.

The resources AiDash IVMS frees up allows NSP’s human experts to focus on tasks for which they’re best suited, like contractor management and building better vegetation management plans.

That human factor is of enormous importance to NSP, both in terms of reclaiming their time and ensuring better safety for workers. They found that they could reclaim an entire day from each coordinator’s week and reassign them somewhere else. 

Even better, because workers can spend less time in hazardous and hard-to-reach areas, NSP expects to improve safety. 

NSP’s benefits from using AiDash IVMS include:

  • Ability to integrate new data into GIS models, which increased confidence in their GIS models.
  • Systematic, detailed, and accurate risk assessments (80% accuracy with control assessment) that provide deeper overall distribution risk assessment and management.
  • Support for enhancement of vegetation management program.
  • Ability to demonstrate and document effectiveness of interventions.

Projected improvements are:

  • Reduce inconsistency and time spent manually assessing vegetation.
  • Improve SAIFI/SAIDI with targeted actions.
  • Increase contractor safety oversight.
  • Resource efficiencies.

To learn more about how NSP used AiDash IVMS, read this blog post

Or get more information about AiDash Intelligent Vegetation Management System (IVMS) here

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About AiDash
AiDash is an AI-first vertical SaaS company on a mission to transform operations, maintenance, and sustainability in industries with geographically distributed assets by using satellites and AI at scale. With access to a continual, near-real-time stream of critical data, utilities, energy, transportation, water and wastewater, and other core industries can make more informed decisions and build optimized long-term plans, all while reducing costs, improving reliability, and achieving sustainability goals. To learn more about how AiDash is helping core industries become more resilient, efficient, and sustainable, visit www.aidash.com.

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