California's energy grid operator has brought its first Internet-based, software-defined network online as part of its mission to efficiently connect entities to the grid's management system. Dispersive Technologies Inc. is the developer and operator of the network.
Humboldt Redwood Co., owner of a 28.8-megawatt biomass power plant, became the first operator to be brought online with the network.
The unit will generate steam and electricity by annually burning about 250,000 bone-dry tons of wood waste from the company's sawmill and planer mill in Scotia, Calif.
"HRC is pleased to be the first California plant using this network," Jim Pelkey, Humboldt Redwood's chief financial officer, said in a news release. "When making the choice, we were especially impressed with the minimal ramp-up time and extensive security measures.
Additionally, the support provided by Dispersive Technologies team was "excellent."
The new network is being used by the California Independent System Operator (ISO) to connect capacity generation assets to its control system.
"Most network services used to securely transport SCADA data depend on technologies almost 20 years old," said Richard E. Harrison, president and CEO of Dispersive Technologies. "They're slow to deploy, costly to operate, limited in their flexibility to support diverse user groups, and challenging to scale. As a result, these traditional private networks and VPNs no longer represent best practices for protecting data-in-motion. Dispersive CISDN (Critical Infrastructure Software-Defined Network) addresses those problems."
Christian Arechavaleta, systems integration engineer for Pacific Power Engineers, a Dispersive Technologies partner which helped install the network, anticipates more power plants will eventually convert to the network.
"Because Dispersive's CISDN requires only a standard broadband connection to the public Internet," he explained, "it's much easier and less expensive to install than other networks. A utility or co-generation plant can deploy it in days rather than weeks. And the network's integrated firewall protects field assets and assures highly secure communications."
The Dispersive CISDN provides the California ISO with additional capability to secure direct telemetry from generating assets within its service area. The California ISO is also exploring possibilities to include metering and ICCP data streams.
Techwire will track that development for potential vendor opportunities.
This article was originally published on Techwire.