- March 30, 2022
- NovaTech Process Solutions, LLC
The ease of SCADA implementation allows Carroll Electric Co-op to install modern, upgraded SCADA systems in 39 remote substations, with centralized home office access and control.
One of the largest electric cooperatives nationwide, Carroll Electric Cooperative Corporation, based in Berryville Arkansas, faced the ongoing challenge of effectively managing its vast network of geographically dispersed substations. Without the ability to remotely monitor substation performance or receive notifications from remote equipment, their personnel had to travel to substations for various issues, delaying response times and problem resolution.
“If we needed to make a change or investigate a problem, our linemen, technicians or engineers would have to come to the substation,” said David Smith, Engineer – Communications at Carroll. “If it was an outage, customer calls would be as we tried to determine if there was a problem at the substation.”
With a network of 41 substations and more than 10,000 miles of line serving more than 100,000 accounts in 11 largely rural counties in Arkansas and Missouri, getting to a substation from Carroll Electric headquarters can take up to an hour and a half. The lack of remote monitoring and management capability stood in the way of the co-op’s mission to provide the most reliable and affordable service to its members.
“We knew a SCADA system would meet our remote management needs,” said Smith. “What we wanted was a centralized way to monitor megawatts per substation and amperage per feeder line to make sure load levels weren’t exceeding our thresholds. This issue becomes even riskier during the coldest winter months.
After undertaking extensive research, Carroll Electric selected the OrionLX system from Pennsylvania-based NovaTech Automation, a substation automation company that has served the power transmission and distribution market for over 40 years. .
The company’s Orion substation automation platform is a communication and automation processor that can connect to almost any substation device in its native protocol, perform calculations and logic advanced features and securely present source or computed data to any number of clients in their own protocol. The Orion can be integrated with any equipment, including competitors, and is often connected to microprocessor-based relays, meters, event recorders, IEDs and RTUs. It is then connected to an existing corporate network or SCADA system.
In this case, the system includes OrionLX RTUs in each substation, which send data back to a main unit located at Carroll Electric’s headquarters.
“We had two main criteria for our SCADA selection, beyond specific functional requirements,” Smith said. “We needed a system that was easy to program by ourselves and affordable. We didn’t want to be burdened with ongoing software, license or maintenance fees.
Ease of programming was important to the Carroll Electric engineering team both for the initial HMI setup and for adding new installations in the future. The cooperative started with a single substation driver for which NovaTech delivered the initial HMI.
The Orion system uses open source web technologies and pre-configured template pages to simplify the creation of interactive SCADA screens and local HMIs to display data from connected IEDs and RTUs using standard web browsers.
Beyond interface design improvements, the integration of key features such as an alarm annunciator application is one of the areas where substation automation platforms have considerably progressed.
The NovaTech platform alarm buzzer is managed by the same WEBserver software. It includes pre-configured pages for data archiving/event recording sequence, alarm announcement, one-line diagrams, IED display plates, monitor screens, alarms, trending and device diagnostics. communication.
“We gave NovaTech the specs for our substations, and they wrote the original master and substation files for us,” Smith said. “From then on, we just modified the program to adapt each successive substation ourselves.”
Carroll deployed the Orion system to 41 substations one at a time. For each installation, technicians wire, run Ethernet cables, and install relays in their control house before the engineering team configures and tests each Orion unit.
“It was really quite easy,” Smith said. “Since the Orion program already had the images of our devices in the field, it was not difficult for us to configure the HMI according to the individual specifications of each new substation.”
Orion HMI single-line diagrams show the status of the entire substation at a glance. This allows the Carroll Electric dispatch team to quickly know which feeders are open and if there are any voltage issues. Feeder breaker zoom screens allow more detailed information to be viewed in the office, such as: blocked ground trip, non-reclosing, maximum amperage, power factor, and fault currents.
Since installing the SCADA system, Carroll has been able to respond to issues more quickly, which has reduced downtime for its customers. Previously, their staff had to go to a substation if there was a problem with a power line or a transformer. Now most problems can be diagnosed remotely. In extremely cold weather, employees would be stationed at various substations to collect amperage readings throughout the day.
Now, monitoring is done from the office. The engineering team remotely connects to substation devices to view parameters, sequence of events and make changes if necessary. “Our monthly substation checks are much more efficient,” Smith said. “We can download device parameters, event logs and charging data from the office without having to visit our substations [in person].”
The remote monitoring capabilities that the SCADA implementation brought to Carroll’s engineering team enabled them to manage the extent of their geographically dispersed network and more effectively support the cooperative’s mission for reliable service. and profitable.
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