Creating a Complex Smart Grid Communication System | Black & Veatch

Creating a Complex Smart Grid Communication System

Creating a Complex Smart Grid Communication System

Project Name
Smart Grid Communications Network

To improve the reliability and efficiency of their operations, a large investor-owned utility contracted Black & Veatch to serve as program manager for their smart grid deployment.  The new system not only had to be capable of monitoring grid operations but also controlling transmission and distribution equipment and applications.

The utility needed a partner with the program management foresight and technology competence to take the project through the planning and development stage all the way to design and deployment. With telecommunications network and grid automation professionals working side-by-side, Black & Veatch took on the challenge to bring their vision of an interoperable smart grid communication system (SGCS) to fulfillment

Amid the Challenges

Providing such a complete analysis required a team with the expertise to provide program and project management, engineering design, procurement, construction/installation, and startup testing for 1,000 smart grid assets.

The Smart Grid Communications System consisted of four project areas:

  • Low Power Communications Network (LPCN)- Enables remote monitoring of low bandwidth assets.

  • Substation Communications (SubComm)- Standardize and expand telecommunication coverage to substations while modernizing a network environment with substations to support current and future smart grid applications.

  • Field Broadband Device Connections (FBDC)- Broadband connections at targeted locations to support phasor measurement units (PMUs) and other applicable, high-speed, smart grid devices installed on distribution circuits.

  • SCADA Optimization and Enhancements (SCADA)- Implement an IP wireless narrowband SCADA system to increase system capacity and enhance electric grid operations.

The project set out to improve grid security and resiliency for our client's customers and created a next-generation utility ready for advanced smart grid applications and renewable integration. The SGCS allows two-way communication to monitor and control transmission and distribution equipment to perform smart grid functions that were never possible before, such as advanced SCADA applications to control renewable energy resources. SGCS serves as a model for other utilities to replicate and represents how the communications network is a key piece to improving grid reliability and creating a self-healing network.

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