Electric System Planning and a Community’s Well-Being

Vignesh Subramanian, CMPAS systems engineer supervisor, records information from Janesville Public Utilities’ feeder panels for System Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) configuration.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” is an often-quoted phrase made by U.S. Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, who many consider the father of electricity. In meeting the mission to put members first, CMPAS knows that good planning helps members secure a community’s well-being under normal and challenging conditions.

With planning and engineering support from CMPAS, our members are replacing analog systems with digitized ones and completed the conversion to electronic maps. These upgrades prove their value during extreme events, including a pandemic, because they provide some remote capabilities.

“Analog systems are like cow paths, but digital systems are four-lane highways, over which we can move so much more data,” said Vignesh Subramanian, CMPAS systems engineer supervisor. “A digitized electric system gives our members better situational intelligence — they can know instantly if there’s a problem on the system.”

To further advance planning efforts, Vignesh and Alex Martin, CMPAS system engineer, meet with CMPAS members to map their systems and discuss one and five-year system needs.

“We provide planning services at no cost to members, and we can purchase equipment for them without marking it up, further adding to their savings,” said Alex Martin, CMPAS system engineer. “For several projects, we have saved members as much as $20,000 to $30,000, depending on the project, compared to what they would have to pay if they went to an outside firm.”

Vignesh and Alex even meet with cities’ large energy-users. In Windom, they worked with the manufacturer, Toro, to assess the impact of adding capacitor banks to improve the factory’s power factor to optimize energy use. They also worked with Granite Falls on a similar project.

For Sleepy Eye’s generator automation project, they provided recommendations that could lower annual operating costs by about $100,000. And, in Fairfax, they helped with a $500,000 project to replace their 69-kilovolt substation transformer.

So, even during these challenging times, local utility employees and CMPAS provide value through planning and action to electrify our community’s well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic response.