As General Manager of OPD5, it is my privilege to serve our customers and support the communities within our service territory. At OPD5, our goal has always been to provide the most economical, reliable, and safe power service possible. As 2019 draws to an end, it is an excellent time to look back over the changes and accomplishments of this year to gauge our progress. It is also time to make plans for continuing to build on our successes and address ongoing challenges in the future. Here are some of this year’s highlights.
Over the last two years, an expert team of rate analysts from Dulles, Virginia, performed revenue requirement studies and rate studies for OPD5. As a result of their detailed analysis, OPD5 adjusted rates for the residential, small commercial, and large commercial rate classes. As recommended in the studies, OPD5 raised the base charges, which collect fixed costs but made corresponding and even more significant reductions in the energy or kWh charges, which collect variable costs. These changes went into effect in September 2019, and the adjustments resulted in a lower power bill for the vast majority of OPD5 customers.
OPD5 has worked tirelessly to maintain a solid financial footing and to reduce costs. It has not been very easy because we live in an era of ever-increasing prices, but I hope OPD5 customers recognize that OPD5’s last rate increase occurred in 2012. Here we are nearly eight years later, and we haven’t raised your energy charge, we adjusted the energy charge lower so most customers would have a lower power bill each month.
According to the Average Service Availability Index (ASAI), OPD5 routinely provides power to customers 99.99% of the time, which is above the industry average. However, OPD5 has experienced two significant outages in the past four years that have caused ASAI to drop below the 99.99% mark in those years. These outages are a concern to you and OPD5. OPD5 is taking steps to overcome these problems.
OPD5 finalized a contract with our transmission service provider to construct a new transmission line connection to our system. Currently, OPD5 is served from a single transmission line. When problems occurred on the line in the past, we have experienced lengthy outages lasting from 8-16 hours. A new transmission line, constructed with steel poles, will provide much-needed reliability.
Once the line is finished and problems occur on one line, we will have the capability of switching to the other line, giving OPD5 the ability to keep the lights on while the OPD5 crews make repairs to the damaged line. The transmission line construction project is scheduled to be completed in 2022.
In conjunction with the new transmission line connection, OPD5 has started work on a $30 million-dollar internal reliability plan. The plan consists of constructing new transmission lines and substations that will provide redundancy and reliability to the power system. Once these lines are finished, when problems occur on one line, we will have the capability of switching to the other line, giving OPD5 the ability to keep customers in power while the OPD5 crews repair the damaged line.
OPD5 is also replacing equipment and devices that cause neighborhood-wide outages. We want you to know that we are concerned and are working hard for you.
Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI)
In 2016, OPD5 started an ambitious three-year project to upgrade meters and the meter reading system. The project included changing out over 16,000 meters, installing new equipment in all distribution substations, and making meter reading and software upgrades.
The new system will allow OPD5 not only to read meters more efficiently but will also enable us to provide additional services. These services include automated connects and disconnects, pre-paid metering, and a customer portal allowing you to manage your account better and monitor your power usage.
That gives you an overview of just three of the many important things OPD5 has accomplished this year. Please watch for the Spring Watts Up newsletter, where I will provide an update on OPD5’s future projects.