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SCADA Project Sets Stage for Smart Grid Future

SCADA Project Sets Stage for Smart Grid Future

Subject Matter Expert: Arron Lewis

With aging assets, an imminent facilities consolidation and regulatory compliance issues looming, United Illuminating (UI) sought a supervisory control and data acquisition master system (SCADA Master) solution that would match the company’s future strategic direction. UI found that forward-looking solution by collaborating with Black & Veatch on a SCADA Master replacement that not only ensures regulatory compliance, but also positions UI for smart grid functionalities for years to come.

The SCADA system is the critical asset UI and other utilities use to monitor and control the bulk power grid. Traditionally, SCADA has been the “watchdog” of the power grid, making sure power flow conditions, system alarms and major equipment are operating as expected. UI’s system operators use SCADA to determine switching requirements and dispatch field personnel to make accurate decisions on how to reconfigure the power system to accommodate abnormal conditions.

With the proliferation of smart grid applications, SCADA systems are becoming even more important. SCADA can reach beyond the bulk power grid to enable enhanced monitoring and control of the distribution system and, subsequently, the end-use customer.

It should be noted that the advanced functionality now exists through distribution management systems and related operating systems, including outage management, work management, mobile workforce management, distribution planning, transmission planning, automation coordination, energy management and more. Those are factors UI has carefully considered in selecting the SCADA system that best meets its future smart grid application needs.

SCADA Upgrade at United Illuminating

UI realized that it was critical to upgrade its existing SCADA network, which was a decade old, to take advantage of these technology advances and to ensure continued compliance with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) standards for bulk power stations. But the New Haven, Connecticut-based regional electric distribution company wanted to do more than play “catch-up.” Other project goals included maximizing operational efficiency as part of a consolidated central facility.

“This project has an aggressive time frame during a time of unprecedented electric system and IT projects,” said Curtiss Wakefield, UI Project Manager. “We needed a partner that understood the duality of SCADA being a key electric system application and a complex technology project.”

With a strong working relationship for more than 30 years, Black & Veatch and UI were poised to work together on Phase 1 services, such as a needs assessment, project implementation planning, vendor selection and contract award.

As part of its “running start” on the project, Black & Veatch subject matter experts facilitated the business process workshops in coordination with their UI counterparts as a way of fully documenting project needs and objectives. The business process models addressed planning, design, operations, outage restoration, maintenance and asset management to ensure a comprehensive view. Together, they were able to define the requirements for the replacement SCADA Master system and the process for the selection of a vendor.

“UI is now well positioned to select and deploy a foundational SCADA Master system that will allow its management team to turn on the high-value, advanced smart grid applications in a timely, but pragmatic fashion,” said Arron Lewis, Project Manager for Black & Veatch.

Black & Veatch has continued its collaboration with UI in the role of prime contractor and system integrator for the project beyond Phase 1, and will have overall responsibility for installation, testing and commissioning. The control room system integrator expertise of Black & Veatch is a critical success factor of the project. Black & Veatch performed a similar role for UI when the utility deployed its outage management system.

UI and Black & Veatch have worked together to implement substation automation at several of UI’s locations and have built an automation test center so UI can test hardware and train personnel.

“Historically, we’ve enjoyed an open and trusting relationship in our prior work,” said Lewis. “More recently, we’ve been able to show how Black & Veatch can leverage its expertise not only through our power delivery business, but also in telecommunications and management consulting.”

Going forward, UI is poised for a wide range of possible future smart grid business releases, such as optimal switch order management, predicted fault location, self-healing circuits and asset management utilizing a smart grid data repository.

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