'Rock star' emergency center unveiled in Snohomish County

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on August 28, 2012 at 5:58 PM

It's a 37,000-square-foot, $13 million behemoth that has Snohomish County storm fighters thunderstruck. The county PUD's new Energy Control and Data Center, or "EC/DC" took center stage in Everett today.

"I love the name, but I like AC/DC," said Chief Information Officer Benjamin Beberness in reference to the legendary rock band.

"It's the rock star of control centers," added Chris Heimgartner, the facility's Assistant General Manager of Distribution and Engineering Services.

The building will be the rock when storms roll in Snohomish County, replacing the current 30-year-old building. A massive electronic map board covers the main control room. Weather reports and trouble spots are coordinated in big screen monitors where all will have better access to information. A new remote control circuit switching system is being tested that will allow crews to divert power to darkened houses in a matter if minutes rather than hours.

"It's all about giving our customers fewer things to worry about," said Beberness.

There are twice as many PUD customers in Snohomish County now than three decades ago, and that number is growing. These are new technologies that are much-needed in the unpredictable Northwest, according to Heimgartner.

"We are talking about storms that bring outages that can last several days. So instead of a four-day outage it may be a three day outage. Still too long, but much better for people."

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