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Comments of East Central Energy- Minnesota

Because of the lack of ubiquitous coverage by major carriers or operating telephone companies, East Central Energy has contracted with our G&T, Great River Energy for private wireless services to our substations. No single vendor or combination of several vendors could provide an integrated solution
Great River Energy has deployed a fully integrated IP network to 36 of ECE’s remote sites of our electric system. The IP network transports data information for SCADA and AMR; metering information. We also use this network to perform maintenance on substation control equipment.
The rural environment and substation in particular present challenges. Carriers and telephone companies build to mass markets. Substations are hazardous electrical environments and thus require expensive and complex protection systems for wire line communications. This has lead many utilities, East Central Energy included, to rely heavily on wireless systems. Wireless covers large areas of geography and is not susceptible to the hazardous voltages.
The spectrum used today will not be enough in the future. As we continue to add Smart Grid distribution system applications to the wireless segment of the network the amount of data will grow. It is projected by the industry that utilities will go from moving and managing 7 terabytes of data to 800 terabytes.