A new supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system being tested in Corn Belt Power Cooperative’s control center offers more secure and robust hardware and software that provide greater redundancy and increased speed for system operations.
Brian Gibson, chief system operator, has been working with a team of Corn Belt Power employees who researched new SCADA systems, selected a vendor, tested equipment and worked with installation of the new system over the past approximately three years.
“This new equipment is configured differently than the old equipment. It’s all virtualized, which means instead of having multiple pieces of hardware, functions have been consolidated into one piece of hardware. This also will allow us to perform maintenance without affecting the real-time operation of the control center,” Gibson explains. “The hardware is more up to date and powerful. It’s bigger, faster and better than our previous equipment.”
The new equipment is organized in clusters that allow fewer physical servers to do more than the equipment it is replacing. Additionally, the cluster structure provides more redundancy in operation, even when some equipment is down for maintenance.
Not only does the new hardware operate faster and better for system operation, but it also offers strengthened cybersecurity measures.
New “state estimator” software will be especially useful for future operations, helping to troubleshoot problems before they can occur and interrupt system operations. Gibson explains, “Instead of waiting for a line overload to happen, this new state estimator software should forecast or predict issues or contingencies. It will then inform the operator before the issue arises and he can then resolve the issue.”
In addition to Gibson, Tyler Baxter, engineer III, and Eric Hankey, SCADA technician, received three weeks of new software training in Minneapolis. Additional Corn Belt Power personnel are being trained at Corn Belt Power.
The brand of the SCADA system chosen is kept confidential as a cybersecurity precaution. The Corn Belt Power team that analyzed options considered usability of software and cost of equipment when selecting the vendor for the $1.5 million project.
The new equipment is currently running parallel to the old system. System operators will continue to test different functions until the testing process is complete and the control center cuts over to the new system entirely in June.