Mountain Lake Digitizes Its Network

As a power agency, CMPAS offers far more than competitive wholesale power and transmission contract procurement, development, and management. We also help members with distribution infrastructure planning and upgrades.

Over the past two years, Vignesh Subramanian, CMPAS systems engineer, installed and activated system control and data acquisition (SCADA) software and/or the Beehive distribution system mapping platform for members. As Vignesh trains members, he also advances digitization efforts installing a data visualization application, called Live Data, and Historian, a data warehouse, for many members.

Ron Melson, electric superintendent of Mountain Lake, likens the amount and quality of data he now receives from SCADA and Beehive to a hockey scoreboard. “It’s always nice to hear the Wild beat the Dallas Stars, but the final score only tells me so much. I want to go deeper — how many goals did Zach Parise score? How many assists did Mikael Granlund get?

“The systems Vignesh from CMPAS installed allow me to monitor all the physical assets in our electric system from my office,” Ron continued. “Before those systems were installed, I had to guess at electric load scheduling by looking out the window and checking the Weather Channel. I had to call someone to confirm a generator was operating. If a circuit needed repairing, I had to guess what equipment should be loaded onto a truck. If a circuit needed reopening, someone had to drive to the site and do it manually.”

“Now we can do all that digitally, from our office, thanks to SCADA, Beehive, and Vignesh,” he commented. “Now, we can troubleshoot problems from our office, using a laptop computer, before we go into the field.

“We’re really grateful Vignesh installed and populated these systems at no added cost to us — it was all covered in our member fee.”

Mountain Lake used SCADA and Beehive in planning the construction of a new substation, which was completed in early 2018.

As Ron explained, “Our one substation, which was over 40 years old, needed replacing for reliability purposes as well as planning for future load. Our load is growing slowly, but there have been rumors that a commercial-industrial (C&I) customer may expand its operations, and we are in conversations with a potential new C&I customer. If those business plans happen, that would be a meaningful increase in our load.

“Whether or not it happens, we needed to have a backup for our existing substation to ensure continued high reliability. That way, if and when, growth comes, we’ll be prepared.”

The new substation, which CMPAS played no role in constructing, is double the capacity of the old substation. By providing a digital map of Mountain Lake’s system, Beehive helped the city pinpoint where they wanted to build the substation and how it would interconnect to the existing network.