Knowing there is a problem before it becomes one. That is the driving force behind a major system upgrade that will go live this summer at Okefenoke REMC to improve reliability, operational efficiencies, and outage response time aimed at minimizing service disruptions to our consumer-members.

With SCADA, Dispatcher Bradley Mobley can now monitor substation operations from the control center in Nahunta, recognize potential problems, communicate with line crews as needed or remotely close a breaker from his desktop and minimize service disruptions.

Implementation of OREMC’s new Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system began last fall. Using a series of intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) installed in each of our 18 substations, combined with an integrated communications network, system operators will now be able to recognize and assist with power restoration via remote operation of substation equipment, thus reducing outage time for our consumer-members.

The broad scope of this project required a team of employees to plan and design the new platform.  Internal resources from engineering (Kane Lee), I.T. (Tony Rowell and Jonathan Brauda) and system operations (Travis Page and James Riggins) contributed greatly to the implementation and testing of the new SCADA system.

Darren Crews, manager, Corporate Support Services, explains, “SCADA gives us a two-fold opportunity to both monitor and control substation equipment remotely. Supervisory control enables remote access to distribution equipment while data acquisition provides near real-time status feedback from IEDs.”

Process Improvement

Crews explains that with our current outage management system, power disruptions as a result of a tripped substation breaker requires a lineman to travel to the affected substation for system troubleshooting.  Once inside the substation, the lineman reviews outage information provided by the IED then forwards that information to the dispatcher and other linemen.  While in the substation, he reconfigures the relay settings so repairs can be made on the distribution system safely.  The lineman then travels back to the location of the outage to assist others with repairs.  Once all repairs are complete, the lineman would need to return to the affected substation to re-energize the circuit and again configure the relay for normal operation.

SCADA can help reduce outage time for members, as the system operator will often have an opportunity to quickly provide outage data to the line crew and remotely reconfigure the relay per lineman request. This allows all manpower efforts to be focused on the outage.  Once repairs are completed, the lineman will request the operator to restore power to the circuit by remotely closing the circuit breaker, therefore eliminating drive time to and from the substation.  The data acquisition component of SCADA provides real-time information on load and equipment status, while also creating historical data records. Crews says, “Together the two components of SCADA not only enable us to visualize and monitor the system, but also observe IED performance so we can maintain optimal system operation for improved reliability and member satisfaction.”

Looking Ahead

While implementation and integration of SCADA architecture began last fall, Crews says it has been part of OREMC’s long-term strategic plan. Many of the enabling components, such as the substation IEDs and communication infrastructure, were previously installed in upgrade projects over time. “This is a project our team has been passionate about,” notes Crews. “While it has taken time to put all the pieces in place, it was very important that we had the necessary hardware and software, with the right options, not only to implement SCADA, but to be ready for the next phase of distribution automation.”

SCADA provides the fundamental basis for future system improvements and distribution automation including remote access to field installed equipment. Crews describes the next phase of implementation as the system being able to “automatically diagnose the outage area and self-heal by reconfiguring the distribution system via operation of strategically positioned field equipment.” OREMC continues to explore technologies in effort to become best in class for reliability and member satisfaction.