High voltage software to prevent power outages

To prevent electricity outages, TransGrid is implementing management software for the company's high voltage electricity transmission system.

Microsoft integrator Avanade has won the deal to design the outage management system for TransGrid, which transmits electricity through 12,016 kilometres of high voltage transmission lines supported by about 20,000 structures that are made from concrete, wood or steel.

The continued operation of this infrastructure, and the 76 substations and power station switchyards that support it, are essential for electricity supply as power retailers rely on TransGrid for their electricity supplies.

Historically, the company has operated an outage management system dedicated to planning maintenance of its far-flung infrastructure, so that any downstream disruptions caused by planned repairs can be avoided.

Yet the challenge of creating an application capable of including all of the interdependencies on TransGrid's vast network has proven beyond the reach of a single application and the company's staff have used a variety of programs, often manually re-keying between systems.

The application operates in a legacy environment that is expensive to operate.

TransGrid CIO Tony Meehan high voltage infrastructure is designed with a 30 to 40 year lifespan.

This requires technical partners capable of making long term commitments.

"We are working with other organisations on other applications that will run in our new environment," Meehan says. "But the outage management system is very complex. There is a lot of work to be done on business processes and we do not yet know what the eventual solution will be."

Avanade Australia general manager Trevor Harper said TransGrid sought a fixed price to design the application.

"On a project of this sort, the eventual development cost can change as you discover the true extent of the required solution," he said.

Avanade and TransGrid have started work on the project, staging workshops between staff from both companies to begin the process of creating a specification for the new application.

Current plans call for this process and the eventual development of the outage system to take between nine and 12 months.

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