T&D World Magazine

Minnesota Cooperative Upgrading Substation Communications

Runestone Electric Association of Alexandria, Minnesota, is the latest member of a rapidly growing community of utilities updating distribution system communications with Smart Grid-ready, 700 MHz licensed wireless IP communication networks from Arcadian Networks. Runestone Electric Association has deployed the Arcadian solution to link all its substations across a wide rural territory. The system is managed in partnership with the cooperative's wholesale power supplier, Great River Energy.

Like many rural electrical cooperatives, Runestone faced significant challenges in communicating with widely dispersed assets. "Our substation communications fell under the jurisdiction of five different telephone companies," noted Dave Blom, IT manager at Runestone. "By tying in with the private licensed spectrum broadband network, which GRE built, we were able to streamline our systems into a single wireless platform that will support our communications needs for years to come," Blom said.

The Arcadian solution, installed in only a few days at all 16 substations, has cut costs and increased the speed and security of data delivery. Runestone no longer needs to spend time or money engineering "work around" solutions to a patchwork of legacy phone lines. The Arcadian network allowed Runestone to build the communications system tailored to the needs of the co-operative and its members.

"Meter data download times have been reduced from an hour to just minutes (for all 16 substations)," said Blom. "We've also saved money by eliminating monthly phone company charges for telephones."

The new system also paves the way for increased remote distribution switching, relaying data from truck-based mobile units, and adapting to future smart grid technologies, which build on the two-way communication established through the Arcadian network.

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