Crew callout is a linchpin for emergency power restoration. Until recently, like most of the utility industry, The United Illuminating Co. (UI) of New Haven, Connecticut, U.S., relied on its supervisors to pick up a phone to alert substation and line workers to after-hours power outages across its service area. UI now has a hosted Internet-based application from ARCOS Inc. to automatically call employees who are on standby, assemble a crew and report on the outcome.

UI intends to use its new callout system after normal business hours on weeknights as well as on weekends and holidays. The system will call UI's construction operations department, meter services department, call center, transmission and substation electricians, and overhead line workers. In addition, the callout system also has a mass notification and alert module for emergency situations beyond crew callout.

“When you're relying on supervisors to contact workers outside the normal business day, it can take hours to bring a crew together,” said Kevin Medley, principal engineer for construction operations at UI. “Delays like that impact a utility's CAIDI [Customer Average Interruption Duration Index] and SAIDI [System Average Interruption Duration Index] metrics as well as the time required to diagnose and restore the outage.”

The ARCOS system can trim the CAIDI by a double-digit percentage according to industry research. The system does that, in part, by instantaneously finding and assembling repair crews for supervisors at any time of day. The speed with which the callout system can bring together crews reduces the length of outage interruptions and trims restoration time for electric, gas and nuclear utilities by getting workers to the scene of the outage faster.

Prior to implementing ARCOS, UI supplied its supervisors with a type-written callout list outlining an evolving set of callout procedures and contact information for workers.

Reducing restoration time was the primary reason for UI to adopt its new callout and resource management system, another benefit will be ensuring bargaining unit employees are called in the correct sequence. With the new system turned on, callout can now happen in minutes and take into account a worker's seniority, rest status, conflicting assignments or vacation time.

“The ARCOS system automatically reports who has been on a callout the previous night, so we can minimize callout errors,” added Medley. “The system produces a range of callout statistics that help us better manage our crews, resources and the time to bring our customers' power back on.”

UI purchases, transmits, distributes and sells electricity and related services to more than 324,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers across southwestern Connecticut.

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