Middle Tennessee Electric Mines NexTraq Data for Tornado FEMA Reimbursement Documentation

TENNESSEE-BASED ELECTRIC CO-OP BENEFITS FROM LONG-TIME INVESTMENT IN NEXTRAQ AFTER A NATURAL DISASTER, ENABLING THE UTILITY TO DOCUMENT ALL REPAIR WORK APPLICABLE FOR FEMA REIMBURSEMENT.

CHALLENGE

After working through post-tornado turmoil to restore electricity to customers, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation used its NexTraq telematics solution to data mine vital information that enabled the utility to document all repair work applicable for the FEMA reimbursement application process.

SOLUTION

  • NexTraq® View™ for Fleet Managers
  • NexTraq® Connect™

NexTraq® Vehicle Maintenance Module RESULT

  • Accurate Documentation to assist in FEMA Reimbursement
  • Increased Fleet Efficiency
  • Boosted Response Time
  • Improved Customer Service
  • Reliable Maintenance Schedules

Challenge

As a member-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperative, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation (MTEMC) serves more than 305,000 electricity meters in an area south of metropolitan Nashville. When a tornado hit the area in March 2020, the co-op’s employees moved quickly to repair equipment and restore service to more than 34,000 residents of Williamson, Wilson, Rutherford, Cannon, and the surrounding counties of Tennessee.

“When something like that happens, it can be chaotic as multiple crews from other areas and companies arrive to provide support,” explained Tige Ballard, MTEMC Operational Technology Supervisor. “We’re more concerned initially with safely and quickly restoring power to as many members as possible. That can create holes in our paperwork for the additional crews during an event like this.”

But when the dust settled, MTEMC was faced with filling out the paperwork associated with FEMA reimbursement. After a natural disaster, FEMA enables communities to cover their costs for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures, and restoring public infrastructure.

FEMA reimbursement also requires detailed documentation on the work that was done.

“We were looking at our various applications to determine where the needed data could be acquired from,” Tige said.

Solution

MTEMC has used NexTraq®—a MICHELIN® group company—telematics solutions since 2008 to manage a range of fleet-related tasks. That meant MTEMC had all the data it needed in NexTraq to retroactively document work related to the tornado. That included which employees were in which vehicles at exact locations and specific times.

“The ability to have multiple ways to get in and pull those reports from NexTraq, as well as to data mine that information for FEMA reimbursement, was critical,” Tige explained. “That was a huge win for us. It’s one thing to have the information. It’s another to retrieve it when you need it.”

Results

Working with NexTraq’s technical support personnel, MTEMC used its telematics data to identify the locations of each vehicle during the post-storm operations, and then matched that information with work orders to prove the work was eligible for FEMA reimbursement.

“Without NexTraq, how much money would we have lost in FEMA reimbursement? And how much time would we have had to put in to figure out who was doing what, where, and when?” Tige asked. “It sounds simple, but when you’re doing a post-mortem on a big natural disaster, the ability to access that data is huge. NexTraq made it easy to get what we needed.”

The co-op also used their NexTraq data to verify which employees were working at specific locations during the clean-up and recovery process. That information enabled MTEMC to apply the employees’ time towards fixing the damage for FEMA reimbursement, because the NexTraq unit in the truck could verify the location and the time.

“Even if an employee didn’t put their name down on the paperwork, we could go to NexTraq and see who was at that location on that job,” Tige said. “Because in the chaos of a disaster like a tornado, we’re not as focused on paperwork. We’re focused on quickly and safely restoring power to our members.”

Although it was the first time MTEMC has used NexTraq for this type of data mining, Tige sees the value for other things. “I’m sure we’ll use it again, now that we know we can do it,” he said.

MTEMC has reaped other long-term benefits from their investment in NexTraq as well.

Dispatching
“We use NexTraq to dispatch every day. Our team is always looking to see who’s the closest crew to an address or who’s available to restore an outage,” Tige explained. “Our operational supervisors are able to easily access this information on a phone or iPad.”

That capability helps MTEMC respond quickly during outages and other emergencies.

“NexTraq provides the interface we need for our outage management system (OMS), which is very important for our systems control operators,” Tige said. “So, we can be the most efficient in restoring power to our members. By all accounts NexTraq has done a very good job at that.”

Maintenance
MTEMC uses NexTraq data for routine maintenance—such as scheduling, logging, service types, engine hours, and vehicle problems. Plus, NexTraq reports help maximize the use of MTEMC’s fleet. That all adds up to safer workdays, improved uptime, and increased profitability.

“We use NexTraq monthly reports to service vehicles based on mileage,” Tige said. “I’ve also used it for reports on assigned vehicles versus pool vehicles. With NexTraq, I’m able to go back and look at the usage of certain vehicles to maximize their use. That’s been a beneficial use of NexTraq over time.”

Merger Support
Tige credits the customer support that MTEMC receives from NexTraq as a big part of this success. During a recent merger with another utility, Tige again turned to NexTraq personnel for help. MTEMC originally had 296 vehicles with NexTraq installed, and the merger added another 41 vehicles.

“We had two different companies using NexTraq,” Tige explained. “The migration of units from their NexTraq account to ours was very simple. Of all the software vendors we worked with, NexTraq was by far the easiest. NexTraq found simple and timely solutions to everything we needed. That’s all you can ask anyone to do.”

Tige appreciates all the NexTraq tools that help his team keep MTEMC’s fleet running smoothly. As a result, he feels MTEMC is getting more from its vehicles, drivers, and teams.

“NexTraq is a product that always does what we need it to do, the way we need it to do it,” Tige said. “It’s a great company to work with.”

About MIDDLE TENNESSEE ELECTRIC MEMBERSHIP CORPORATION:

Middle Tennessee Electric is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperative that serves more than 305,000 meters in a four-county area south of metropolitan Nashville. The co-op provides energy to homes, businesses, and lives to the more than 750,000 residents of Williamson, Wilson, Rutherford, Cannon, and the surrounding counties. Since its foundation in 1936 by farmers and homeowners, MTEMC has evolved and grown to more than 500 employees, who contribute to its leadership in economic development and improvements to quality of life in the communities it serves.

“NexTraq is a product that always does what we need it to do, the way we need it to do it. It’s a great company to work with.”

Tige Ballard
MTEMC Operational Technology Supervisor
Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation