Entergy, Alabama Power take home top honors in Chartwell’s 2021 outage awards

By Suzanne Haggerty, Senior Management of Customer Engagement –

Chartwell is excited to announce the winners of our 2021 Best Practices Awards in Outage Communications and Outage Restoration.

Entergy, Tampa Electric (TECO) and Alabama Power were the winners in the Outage Communications category, while Alabama Power and AEP will be taking home the honors in the Outage Restoration category.

Winners and finalists will share information on their winning efforts at PowerUp: Chartwell’s Outage Conference, scheduled to be held virtually on June 8 and 9. The conference features multiple sessions focused on outage-related topics, including new communications tools, channels and technologies; adapting to changing customer expectations; and improved outage-reporting tools.

Entergy will take home the Gold Outage Communications Award for its outage restoration messaging improvements, which enabled the utility to offer consistent, reliable communications to its customers during a record hurricane season. The company partnered with Message Broadcast to send continuous proactive communications before, during and after each event using outbound voice calls, SMS and MMS message flows, and emails.

“Utilities rarely face as many simultaneous problems as Entergy did in 2020,” said Russ Henderson, Senior Research Manager at Chartwell. “Entergy’s submission was titled ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept,’ and the company was true to its word: During an unrelenting storm season set against the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic, customers learned they could depend on Entergy for dependable outage updates even in the midst of catastrophic damage.”

Alabama Power will take home the Gold Outage Restoration Award for the innovative enhancements it made to leverage the company’s Automated Meter Infrastructure (AMI) and Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS). During the active 2020 hurricane season the system improvements allowed the utility to verify that power had been restored for all customers in areas that had been severely damaged before releasing crews, ensuring that customers experienced shorter outage times.

“Adapting existing technology to develop effective solutions is the hallmark of an innovative utility,” Henderson, said. “By working closely to develop automation and field process that leverage the AMI, Alabama Power’s AMI and ADMS teams have efficiently and economically optimized the company’s restoration capabilities.”

Chartwell will be publishing case studies on all winning entries after the conference, available to Chartwell Insight Center members.

Also taking home 2021 honors in the Outage Communications category:

  • Tampa Electric (TECO) earned the Silver Outage Communications Award for its outage-related improvement initiative, which provided easier options for customers to report outages and enabled mobile-friendly functionality. The improvements reduced costs and dependencies on third-party backup solutions, increased the percentage of outages reported via self-service channels, and improved the accuracy of outage reporting.   
  • Alabama Power will take home the Bronze Outage Communications Award for its Outage Alerts application, which provides customers timely, accurate and personalized information about the status of their power outages. A cross-departmental project team worked together for several months to design, develop and deploy the system, which integrates outage management system processes, customer communications and survey feedback into a one-stop solution designed to improve customer communications during power outages.

Also taking home 2021 honors in the Outage Restoration category:

  • AEP earned the Silver Outage Restoration Award for its Storm Outage Prediction Model, which has resulted in a quicker, more efficient restoration process, including fewer customer satisfaction issues and lower cost for housing and care for mutual assistance personnel and contractors.

Additionally, Chartwell recognized Southern California Edison with the 2021 Sustained Leadership in Outage Communications Award for the utility’s longtime commitment to ongoing improvements.

“If any utility could actually increase its net scores for maintenance and repair outages in a year filled with seemingly endless disasters and uncertainties, it’s SCE,” Henderson said. “The achievements outlined in the company’s 2021 award entry are a credit to its ongoing improvement strategy – SCE was as ready as any company could have been for last year’s slow-rolling, non-stop series of emergencies.”

If you have any questions about the awards or the upcoming conference, please email Suzanne Haggerty.