RICHMOND, Va. — Dominion Energy is rolling out a new central command station and app for customers ahead of winter.
The company gave a tour of the center on Thursday at its new downtown Richmond headquarters and discussed its winter predictions.
“The overall winter does lean a little bit warmer than normal,” Jeff Mock, Senior Meteorologist at Dominion Energy’s Emergency Preparedness Center, said. “But, you still have the ups and the downs and we’ve had winters that overall are warmer than normal and you still get a week of extreme cold which can then be very memorable for years to come.”
The company said when those extreme weeks arrive, its new Storm Center will help coordinate a faster response to power outages.
“We use a quasi-incident command structure and you’ll see on these desks in here that we’ve got placards that indicate the different sections that are so vitally important to getting to stood up very quickly and implement and executing in the field,” Regional Operations Centers and Emergency Preparedness Director Alan Bradshaw said. “Things like damage assessment, logistics, when you’re bringing in crews from different states finding hotel rooms and places for them to stage trucks is just a big part of making sure the restoration goes as efficiently as possible.”
Dominion said one of the key new features of its Storm Center are three digital dashboards that fill the interior walls of the center.
“You’ll see on this board that we’ve got instant information about how many customers are out, do we have critical customers out,” said Bradshaw. “We’ve got information that’s being collected from the field as far as damage assessment. We’re able to see those pictures here immediately as they collect that information. We’ve got our resource information; how many bucket trucks we have, how people are working on the storm.”
Bradshaw said that the dashboard evolves as they move through the different stages of a storm.
“To help us have the information that helps us make those really fast decisions so that we can get patrollers, bucket trucks… take care of all those logistics as fast as possible so, again, our goal is that our crews are as responsive as possible and as efficient as possible,” added Bradshaw.
Along with the new tool for their response teams, Dominion said it also has launched a new smartphone app for customers as another way to report and track repairs to outages. Previously customers could call 1-866-DOM-HELP (366-4357) or report them online.
The app is available on the Google Play and Apple app stores.
Dominion Energy said along with reporting outages, users will have access to the outage map and be able to search for nearby places that may have power like hotels, gas stations, or restaurants.
Dominion added while they prepare for the upcoming season, they want to remind customers of some safety tips for when the winter storms do arrive.
These include staying away from any down power lines, staying off the roads during a winter storm (which makes it easier for their crews and first responders to get around), and, if you do lose power and are using a generator until it is restored, make sure you are using that generator properly.
“A generator that is hooked up incorrectly can actually energize a power line and that’s one of the things that our crews guard against,” said Bradshaw.