Utility owners all recognize the importance of maintaining a strategic plan for their EMS and DMS systems, but are often so busy with maintaining the reliable operation of their current system that they don’t have the time or resources to perform a detailed review and assessment of their current and future needs.
ATCO Canada knew their own transmission system well – but they wanted to expand their view. Because they were familiar with PSC’s expertise in EMS assessment and strategic planning for other utilities in Canada and around the world, ATCO selected PSC to perform a review of ATCO’s transmission system tools and capabilities to assess how well the tools were meeting business goals and regulatory and security mandates.
The product of this assessment was a 5-year strategy roadmap for the EMS that provided ATCO with the framework they needed for planning and justification for growth and enhancement to their existing EMS over that period.
PSC’s EMS subject matter expertise and vendor-neutral position within the industry enabled a knowledgeable and unbiased assessment of the current system as well as ATCO needs. The project approach was to assess the state of the system both internal to ATCO and externally, relative to regional peers, regarding the state of the art within the EMS vendor marketplace. On completion of the project, documentation and presentation deliverables were provided to the key ATCO EMS stakeholders.
Key questions to be answered included:
- Can the current EMS and vendor solution meet their needs, both today and throughout the 5- year planning cycle?
- What enhancements and development approach will be needed to extend the current system to meet ATCO’s needs?
- What alternatives and potential benefits are available from other EMS vendors, and what would be the impact to ATCO if a change was made?
PSC surveyed and interviewed key stakeholders to confirm how the existing system is presently utilized and to uncover any potential known or currently unknown gaps.
PSC compared the ATCO system and its current requirements against regional peers in the industry, as well as evaluating ATCO’s existing system architecture against alternative EMS vendor capabilities to determine whether their needs were being met by the current systems and tools.
Considerations included security strategy, interoperability with other ATCO systems, custom device protocols, and key functions and capabilities of advanced EMS.
ATCO now benefits from a stronger understanding of their transmission system tools and capabilities, and has a clear picture of the steps required to position their EMS for the future. This outcome was supported with documentation and a recommended roadmap covering the following topics:
ATCO EMS system overview
- A comparison with ATCO’s peer EMS systems vendors.
- A summary of the key stakeholder survey findings and recommendations.
- A gap analysis between their current system features and capabilities and their desired state.
- Recommendations for ATCO system enhancement and proposed road map for moving forward.
ATCO has received confirmation that they are on an appropriate EMS platform, with capabilities and extensibility that has not yet been fully explored leaving open a range of options for how the utility moves forward in the coming years.
The EMS roadmap helped ATCO to better understand current and upcoming technologies in the utility industry, identify areas of operational technology weaknesses and develop a clear path for future improvement. It creates a vision for operational excellence and a clear path on how to get there.