Chairman of the Edison Electric Institute Ted Craver (left) presents the International Edison Award to Ergon Energy CE Ian McLeod in New Orleans.

Ergon Energy has received the US-based Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI’s) 2015 International Edison Award for one of their new asset assessment technologies. The technology creates a virtual version of the real world to allow the fast and accurate inspection and assessment of electricity networks.

Ergon Energy Chief Executive, Ian McLeod, said the award was tremendous recognition for everyone at Ergon who had developed the Roames Virtual World Asset Management System.

“Roames technology is an aircraft-based laser and imaging capture system which quickly and efficiently maps a network,” Mr McLeod said.

“Roames creates a virtual version of the real world to allow the fast and accurate inspection and assessment of electricity networks and the surrounding environment, particularly vegetation, without the need to deploy field crews.

“Today Roames continues to help us save millions annually in vegetation management. It contributes to a more reliable electricity supply, creates a safer working environment for crews, and helps get the lights back on to communities more quickly after a natural disaster.”

EEI President Tom Kuhn praised Ergon for developing the technology.

“Ergon’s ROAMES system offers a cutting-edge solution to many of the challenges of managing the company’s 160,000-kilometre transmission and distribution system, which spans across a vast and geographically harsh area,” Mr Kuhn said.

“This innovative technology will benefit customers and has the potential for broad application within and beyond the electric power industry. Ergon is truly deserving of the Edison Award.”

Dutch multinational Fugro, which purchased the Roames technology in 2014, now provides the service under a contractual agreement with Ergon and also to other utilities in Australia and overseas.

The data is giving the company’s asset managers an unprecedented insight into maintenance and other priority issues.  Ergon also tapped into ROAMES to assess damage in the wake of Cyclone Marcia earlier this year.

Mr McLeod said it was gratifying to see that when Ergon faced a complex challenge it was able to develop an award-winning technology solution that will have a positive impact on the world.

“With a highly dispersed network spanning varying climatic conditions, Ergon was challenged in managing the network’s safe interaction with the surrounding environment, including vegetation, ground levels, buildings and storms,” Mr McLeod said.

“To meet these challenges, we developed a commercially attractive solution around spatial intelligence and automated analytics designed to improve risk management, disaster response and safety performance, while reducing costs and enhancing its customer service and value proposition.

“The Roames system allows our infrastructure managers to investigate and monitor the condition and performance of the network in extremely high fidelity—all without the need to deploy workers in the field. This system improves safety and efficiency and lowers costs, all of which benefit customers,” he concluded.

A panel of former electric company chief executives selected Ergon and Canadian Saskatchewan Power Corporation for the annual Edison Award from a group of distinguished finalists.

Ergon is a member of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) which represents all US investor-owned electric companies. Its members provide electricity for 220 million Americans, operate in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and directly employ more than 500,000 workers. EEI has 70 international electric companies as Affiliate Members, and 270 industry suppliers and related organizations as Associate Members.

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