Unitil launches gas outage management system

Seacoast Sunday, November 28, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of Seacoast Sunday and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON — Unitil Corporation, a natural gas and electric delivery company with residential and business customers throughout New England, recently launched its new gas outage management system, a sophisticated Web-based tool that centralizes critical planning data and facilitates safe, efficient service restoration for the utility's natural gas customers.

Developed exclusively by Unitil experts, the gas OMS leverages data captured from the company's comprehensive network of internal resources including the Geographic Information System, Compliance Management System, and Customer Information System.

"A systematic approach to gas outage restoration is critical to customer and crew safety," said Chris LeBlanc, gas operations director for Unitil. "Our new OMS allows us to better define the scope of an outage and manage the restoration process even more carefully and quickly."

Unitil's gas OMS is scalable, facilitating the efficient restoration of both localized and multi-state outages. The technologically advanced Web database allows all field personnel and contractors with proper security clearance 24/7 access and is used by more than 200 Unitil employees across nearly every department. The system facilitates electronic data collection, allows for real time event monitoring, and generates real time restoration metrics. In addition, it produces the restoration status reports required every four hours during an outage by the state Department of Transportation and Public Utilities Commission. The system can generate the reports more frequently if necessary and saves each for easy access at any time.

Unitil is also rolling out new state-of-the-art leak survey equipment for all emergency first responders in New Hampshire. The mobile methane-specific laser detection units collect air samples from a larger area more quickly than older handheld units. The highly sensitive technology measures in parts per million, detecting gas long before reaching potentially hazardous levels, to improve emergency response and safety for Unitil customers and employees. The introduction of 11 mobile units in New Hampshire will also result in more comprehensive emergency response training, adding mobile investigation to the program.

Unitil is a public utility holding company with affiliates that include Unitil Energy Systems, Inc., Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Company, Northern Utilities, Inc., and Granite State Gas Transmission, Inc. Together, Unitil's operating utilities serve 100,500 electric customers and 70,000 natural gas customers. Other subsidiaries include Unitil Service Corp. and its non-regulated business segment doing business as Usource. For more information, visit www.unitil.com.