AR Utility Selects Security Platform

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 @ 03:09 PM gHale


Clarksville Light & Water (CLW), of Clarksville, Arkansas, is implementing the Bedrock Automation control system to monitor and control of its electric, water and wastewater utilities.

The project is part of the city’s plan to save up to $2 million over the next five years through improved control, monitoring, and security of its electric grid and water treatment facilities.

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CLW is a municipally-owned utility that has been serving the Clarksville, Arkansas community since 1913. It plays a major role attracting new investment from the business community, driving job creation. CLW just enhanced its municipal infrastructure with 16.7 miles of 288 strand fiber cable in redundant loops throughout the city.

“A fiber network communication system was the most reliable, cost effective, and secure network we could put in place,” said CLW General Manager, John Lester. “It also offered the potential to layer in other revenue generation services, both internally and externally. The fiber optic network gave us a way to tap that new functionality for our remote operations and when we learned that choosing Bedrock as our RTU system would mean that military-grade cyber security was already built in, we saw a very cost effective way to reduce cyber risk while also addressing looming NERC CIP compliance requirements.”

With the new system in place, CLW now controls functionality via remote access for remote terminal units (RTU) as well as 24/7 automated and on-demand remote monitoring of key assets. That connectivity enables the utility to optimize asset maintenance actions through custom email and text alerts based on real-time data.

The system is already generating results, Lester said.

“This project has reduced overtime: A direct savings. Problems can be identified, sometimes even solved without having to physically be at the plant or in the field,” Lester said.

Bedrock certified solution provider Brown Engineers, of Little Rock, Arkansas, completed the installation in the second quarter of 2016 and the system is now in full-operation. Brown Engineers paired the Bedrock control platform with Inductive Automation’s Ignition software platform to deliver an integrated, secure open systems solution that enables CLW to proactively manage critical infrastructure assets both onsite and remotely.

“We wanted each substation RTU to have enough horsepower to aggregate all power meter data and protective relay data for sequence of event recording. We also considered the future development needs for power management techniques that support demand management and load shedding controls. The Bedrock controllers provide all those features in an easy-to-manage integrated development environment (IDE) as well as built-in cybersecurity protections embedded at the hardware level,” said Dee Brown, PE and principal at Brown Engineering.

Each Bedrock controller uses an electromagnetic backplane instead of a traditional pin-based backplane, which eliminates pin corrosion and breakage. The electromagnetic backplane also contributes to the system’s high security by preventing the possibility of using counterfeit I/O modules. A galvanic isolation barrier between field wiring and the controller provides a high degree of electrical protection and reliability in electrically noisy environments, ensuring accurate measurement in the presence of high voltages like those found in power substations.