Research Findings Point to Upgrade of EMS, SCADA and DMS Capabilities during 2017-2019

The Newton-Evans Research Company has published its report of findings from its just-completed study of EMS, SCADA, DMS and OMS usage patterns in North American electric power utilities. This is the first release of the company’s four component reports of its 14th global market assessment series on operational control systems, conducted since 1984.

Here are some observations based on interviews and surveys with 68 utility participants from across North America:

Almost one-half of all survey respondents (46%) plan to upgrade or retrofit their SCADA installations by 2019. Most respondents with such plans were mid-size and larger cooperatives and public power utilities.

Twenty percent of respondents plan to purchase a new or replacement DMS by 2019. Only six (major) utilities reported that they currently have an Advanced DMS, but 23 others will have an ADMS in the near future. Importantly, of the 29 respondents using or planning to use an ADMS, none indicated that their SCADA functionality and network modeling presently include distributed energy resources (DERs). However, most of this sub-group (82%) plans to include DERs in their ADMS functionality in the future.

Figure 1. Applications used as a part of DMS/ADMS

Figure 1. Applications used as a part of DMS/ADMS

Real-time network analysis and fault location were the prevalent applications being used as part of current DMS or ADMS installations. Plans are centered on supplementing these (where not yet implemented) and adding network optimization and distributed energy resource management capabilities. (See Fig. 1)

Real-time linkages between SCADA and GIS or OMS were found in 44% of the utility sites. Forty-one percent reported having no real-time linkages among these systems.

Almost half of the survey respondents indicated that the operational systems support group is managed by Operations, while about one-third stated that such support is now part of corporate IT. (See Fig. 2)

Figure 2. How is OS Support Managed?

Figure 2. How is OS Support Managed?

Third party services are being used and relied upon to assist with NERC CIP compliance issues and for the conduct of vulnerability assessments.

DNP 3 continues to be the most prevalent operational data communications protocol throughout North American electric power utilities. Plans call for continuing the use of DNP 3 for the foreseeable future among most of these utilities. Some planning for IEC 61850 is underway, but remains at a low level among these respondents.

More than a score of additional topics were surveyed in this new study including the impact of NERC CIP compliance on budgets and workloads; cyber security issues; telecommunications strategies and methodologies; distribution network model maintenance; changing organizational responsibilities for control systems; budget outlooks; and applications usage patterns.

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