Why You Should Partner with a Contractor Instead of Adding Staff

Companies in growth mode in every industry routinely face some of the same questions, touching on subjects like: “What direction are we heading?” “What are our competitors doing?” and “How can we maintain the same level of service with customers as we expand?”

But the question likely to generate the most discussion is, “Should we partner with a contractor or hire additional staff internally?” No matter where they stand in the debate, most people feel strongly about their position, which is probably why advocates for one side or the other have passionately pleaded their case in boardrooms and break rooms across the country for decades. While there are certainly advantages to growing your internal team, we wanted to talk today about the benefits of going with a contractor and the advantages outsourcing can bring to your business. (more…)

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Truths vs. Myths: A Closer Look at AMI

There’s no doubt that advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is one of the most popular topics of conversation in the utilities industry today. And given the rapid rise in installations and use across the world, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that nearly 70% of all electric meters have migrated to smart-enabled devices. Meanwhile, research from one analyst firm predicts the installed base of water utility AMI endpoints in Europe and North America will double between 2021 and 2027. 

Yet, despite its prevalence in the marketplace, much confusion still exists—particularly among consumers—regarding how AMI works and the benefits this emerging technology provides. That’s why we wanted to offer up a handful of AMI truths and myths to help clear up any lingering confusion. (more…)

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Top Reasons Why Utilities Should Convert to AMI

These days, it feels like smart-enabled devices are all around us. From our phones and speakers to appliances, doorbells and wristwatches, smart-enabled devices have revolutionized many different aspects of our daily lives as consumers. And while those device examples mainly benefit the consumer or end-user, plenty of smart-enabled devices—like advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)—offer a litany of advantages to both the consumer and service-providing business.

AMI modernizes the traditional act of utility metering with the help of smart-enabled devices, and utilities worldwide are switching to reap all the benefits this emerging technology has to offer. If you’re a utility considering a conversion to AMI but aren’t quite ready to take a leap, the reasons we detail below may be just the nudge you need to decide.


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Trust, But Verify: The Value of Quality Audits in Relationships, Safety and Work Product

Having their manager hover over their shoulder and check on their every move can be enough to drive an employee toward a new job or even out of the industry. And the reason why is simple: No one likes the feeling of being micromanaged. But there’s a stark difference between micromanaging and conducting regular quality audits, and most employees are perceptive enough to recognize that routine checks are actually beneficial. Read on as we detail a few ways that a “trust, but verify” mindset can help leadership illustrate just how much they care for their employees.


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Safety Training and the Benefits Beyond Keeping Workers Safe

The inherent dangers of working in industries like utilities and construction aren’t exactly fun topics of conversation—however, they are essential to discuss. Employees and contractors in these fields are often tasked with working at heights that would make the average person uncomfortable, using heavy machinery and harnessing the power of industrial-strength chemicals. But no matter their role or that day’s tasks, the reality is the safest workers on every jobsite are those who routinely receive in-depth safety training.

To help underscore the importance of this practice, we’ve put together a list of some of the top benefits (beyond just remaining safe from jobsite hazards) workers and utilities receive when safety training becomes an organizational priority. (more…)

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PPE: What is it, and Why Must it be Inspected?

When most of us think of essential equipment to have on the jobsite, tried-and-true tools like hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches and pipe cutters are the first things to come to mind. And while those are all critical for getting the job done, there’s another vital piece of equipment that can’t be overlooked: Personal protective equipment.

Also known as PPE, this equipment keeps workers safe from jobsite-related hazards, shielding them from potential injury or even death. But the reality is that the highest quality gloves, hard hats, respirators and safety glasses can all fail if the PPE is ill-fitting or in poor condition. Regular inspection of employee uniforms and PPE not only creates customer confidence but it keeps employees safer when on site. Here are a few of the top things you should know about PPE and PPE inspections.


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Top 5 Tips to Remember About Toolbox Talks

Every workday, utility construction jobsites around the country are buzzing with activity as workers and tradespeople toil away. But before the first meter is installed, the first pole is repaired, or the first underground utility is located, it’s not uncommon to see these hardworking employees and contractors gather for what’s called a toolbox talk. Also known as a tailgate meeting, these informal sessions are brief safety discussions in which jobsite leaders reinforce best practices for remaining safe while working.  


The concept of toolbox talks has been growing rapidly in popularity over the last few decades—which may be one of the biggest reasons why worker deaths, injuries and illness are down significantly since the 1970s, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. If you want to start toolbox talks on your jobsites or you’re looking for a few tips to improve your ongoing sessions, read on as we recap our top five things to remember about toolbox talks


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Read more about the article Metering vs. Submetering: What’s the Difference?
Row of natural gas meters with yellow pipes on building brick wall

Metering vs. Submetering: What’s the Difference?

Anyone who has spent much time around a utility company has likely heard the word “metering” thrown around a time or two. In fact, the term is so common that many utility customers have grown familiar with what it means and how metering affects them.—or so they think. But what customers, and even some utility employees don’t know, is that there is both metering and “submetering,” and the differences between the two are stark. 

To help clear up any confusion and provide context around what each is, we wanted to detail some of the biggest differences between metering and submetering.


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The Importance of Advanced Weather Analytics for Vegetation Management

It goes without saying, but anything capable of burning is subject to becoming fuel for a fire. While that might not mean much for backyard fire pit enthusiasts who are happy to throw on another oak log as the temperature dips on a cool winter night, it can be devastating in large areas thick with overgrown vegetation. We can’t say for certain how many of the nearly 60,000 wildfires that occurred in 2021 happened or worsened due to overgrown vegetation, but it’s safe to say it’s a problem. However, wildfires aren’t the only unplanned occurrence affected by overgrown vegetation. 

High winds, tornadoes, hurricanes and other perilous weather patterns can cause trees and branches to fall. This impacts millions of people. In fact, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) refers to tree contact with transmission lines as a leading cause of electric power outages and a common cause of past regional blackouts.” FERC goes on to say that a similar event was the genesis of the August 2003 blackout. This event resulted in some 50 million people in the U.S. and Canada losing power. 

To help minimize the potential of fire, adverse weather and overgrown vegetation causing a power outage, many utilities have become more proactive in their efforts with advanced analytics.


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Why Locating Underground Utilities Matters, And How UPA Can Help

Once utility lines moved from overhead to underground, service reliability improved markedly. While moving and locating utilities underground helped to ensure continuity, it also ushered in additional layers of complexity and challenges.  Homeowners, landscapers, construction companies, and utility companies themselves no longer have a line of sight on these critical lines.  This means one unlucky nudge of a shovel could result in a severed line and interrupted service.

The only way to safely and smartly proceed with a project that involves digging is to locate all underground utilities before breaking any ground at all.  That’s precisely why Utility Partners of America (UPA) created its Private Locating Division. Our goal is to help utilities and contractors identify buried utility infrastructure that could be disrupted by an upcoming excavation.

Here are the top reasons underscoring the importance of properly locating utilities before digging and more information on UPA’s private locating services.


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