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The need to develop capital-efficient strategies to maintain underground electrical reliability

I’ve had the good fortune of having a varied business background, exclusively focused on technology, from hardware-centric solutions like voice mail systems and biometrics (e.g., fingerprint readers) to software or online solutions in the e-commerce and digital marketing world to a broadband service provider. I have found my time in the utility industry to be a natural continuation of this diversity.  No matter the industry, all businesses have a few, key business model variables that ultimately make or break the business.  The goal is to identify these leverage points, optimize reporting of the associated key metrics, and enlist your entire workforce to make them a priority to bring about positive operational and financial change. The key to the success in this industry lays in the hands of the ‘master’ linemen—who need to be highly efficient and productive in delivering services and results, while maintaining the highest standard of safety for themselves, utility personnel and consumers.  In this industry it is key that we unite to optimize all aspects of our service delivery and logistics, safely.

Challenges:  Utilities face a complex challenge. They must balance a tight budget and maintain high safety standards, all while providing customers with reliable service at affordable rates.

Our nation’s aging infrastructure cannot be replaced all at once.  There is a need to develop capital-efficient strategies to maintain underground electrical reliability.  Suppliers need to work with utilities to develop asset management programs to prioritize projects and optimize capital.  A combination of cable replacement combined with injected cable rejuvenation is finally receiving widespread adoption as these technologies have proven themselves to provide reliability, cost efficacy, and sustainability.

One factor that will drive this adoption is favorable budget treatment of rejuvenation expenses.  The Federal Energy Regulation Commission has noted that a company may capitalize the cost of installing injection rehabilitation products, provided that the product is used by the company to extend the useful life of its segments of URD cables beyond their original estimated useful lives. This is one of several opportunities available to utilities when budgeting asset management.  More and more utilities are sharing their experiences with colleagues to create asset management programs that work both short term and long term.

Collaboration:  Electric utilities are always looking for ways to enhance their infrastructure’s reliability and performance, while controlling expenses.  It’s important that utilities talk to one another to share their experiences and strategies to ensure that we can continue to provide reliable electrical service as our nation’s appetite for electrical consumption continues to expand.  Our own company is working to create ongoing relationships with customers year-to-year, going beyond just reactive rejuvenation to proactive rejuvenation to improve the health of aging cable before it goes bad.

No electric utility ever wants their power to go off.  At many utilities, management of aging infrastructure is centered around addressing faults and cable replacement. Cable rejuvenation is a viable, and often ideal, option for electric utilities to consider, as well.  Much of the industry still thinks cable rejuvenation is too good to be true, and can restore the cable without tearing up the ground and surrounding area, while offering a 40-year warranty.  The challenge is to spread the word that this technology works, and has worked for decades.  We have dozens of customers, testimonials and case studies that prove this patented approach is very successfully at “keeping the lights on” in communities across the US and Canada.


About the writer:  Jon Engman recently joined Novinium as the company’s Chief Financial Officer.  Jon has over 20 years of experience leading high-tech companies experiencing rapid growth in both revenue and enterprise value having previously held executive leadership positions at DayDials (“Dials”), Sesame Communications, Saflink, and several Paul Allen companies.  

About Novinium: Novinium’s patented injection process rejuvenates and extends the reliable life of cable up to 40 years. Founded on 28 years of industry experience by the inventors of cable rejuvenation, Novinium’s technology solutions address circuit owners’ infrastructure problems at a fraction of the cost of existing methods, and save energy and natural resources by eliminating the need for additional production of copper and polymers for new cables. Headquartered in suburban Seattle, the privately held company is the recognized technology leader in cable rejuvenation and was honored as one of Seattle’s 2013 Best Places to Work. Further information is available at www.novinium.com.


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