Kootenai Electric Cooperative

Customer Spotlight Kootenai Electric Cooperative

Kootenai Electric Cooperative streamlines fleet management and improves FEMA compliance with Zonar smart fleet management technologies.

The largest electric cooperative in Idaho, Kootenai Electric Cooperative (KEC) has been supplying competitively priced, quality energy services to its members since 1938. Part of its role is helping its communities recover from disaster-related events, such as damage from severe storms. In times of need, KEC engages in debris removal, power restoration, and emergency protective measures to restore communities to business as usual.

Accurate tracking and reporting play a key role in the Cooperative’s success. It is particularly important for the Cooperative’s work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which requires stringent compliance in the documentation of disaster relief-related expenses submitted for reimbursement.

Prior to engaging with Zonar in February 2014, the fleet’s tracking and reporting was done manually, relying on the operators to manage inspections, logging, and reporting using old-style log books, time cards, and pre-flight systems. Their disaster relief-related expense reporting to FEMA of emergency protective measures, debris removal and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged infrastructure was handled in a similar way. The documentation process was so arduous that the team didn’t submit much for reimbursement. When they did, the returns were minimal due to the lack of complete materials. The KEC team was ready for a new approach that would bring greater visibility into their fleet and enable them to recover more of their resources. Zonar’s smart fleet technologies and customer support commitment fit the bill.

In March 2014, KEC began implementing the Zonar 2010™ Electronic Verified Inspection Reporting (EVIR®) system, and the following month, the fleet’s first Zonar 2010 was installed. The real-world impact was immediately noticeable. With pre- and post-trip inspections loaded on the Zonar 2010, the required daily pre-flight reporting was easily documented, and violations were quick and easy to tag. The influx of precision data enabled KEC to identify specific shifts that were experiencing issues, take steps to address those issues in an efficient and timely manner, and then verify that they were resolved.

Within two years of implementing Zonar V3, 2010, and ZTrak solution, KEC has improved its reimbursement recovery nearly 100%, and has also been able to automate and simplify fleet tracking and reporting for higher operating efficiency.

Zonar supports its products 100% after the initial sale, which is huge. We’ve had a lot of companies who, once we’ve bought in, are non-existent. Zonar is still there for us.
Mike Stevens, Fleet Services

Deploying the Zonar solutions following a recent storm event, KEC was able to apply for FEMA reimbursement and was reimbursed for nearly 75% of actual damage costs. Zonar technology was responsible for a majority of that return. With the lack of paper records FEMA would have disallowed a substantial portion of the reimbursement. Also with the Zone damage reports, KEC was able to petition and be awarded mitigation and funding for the replacement of lines to go from overhead to underground and lessen future outages for their members. The KEC team leveraged the V3 and 2010 to access data on their crews in FEMA zones immediately, providing real-time visibility into manpower hours and locations. The crews would enter their pre- and post-trip data, and the 2010 would complete the process from there. This allowed KEC to track and re-allocate assets during events, monitor crew efficiency, and complete the rigorous FEMA documentation more quickly.

Asset tracking was another core area where smart fleet technologies provided greater visibility and responsiveness. Equipment loss and theft was impacting the crews. Under the previous system, the team would search for their missing assets manually – contacting the dealerships, leveraging social media cooperation, etc. – which had mixed results. Working with Zonar, KEC added ZTrak to the fleet to provide real-time, high-precision tracking data for its equipment in the field.