Focus on Convergence

OPTCL’s IT-OT initiatives

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated efforts towards information technology (IT)-operational technology (OT) convergence. Utilities are prioritising their IT-OT initiatives and fast-tracking their digital transformation plans in order to work remotely and effectively.

Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Limited (OPTCL) is a progressive power utility in the eastern region, with a medium-sized transmission network of 14,387 ckt. km. The utility has already established a robust optical ground wire (OPGW) communication backbone of 4,346 km to support all its IT and OT applications. In the recent past, OPTCL has successfully implemented unified load despatch and communication supervisory control and data acquisition-energy management systems (SCADA-EMS), phasor measurement units, geographic information system (GIS), substation automation systems, digital tele-protection couplers (DTPCs), advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), remote surveillance and videoconferencing projects, among others. Further, OPTCL has its own wide area network (WAN) for accessing its business applications.

Smart Utilities takes a look at OPTCL’s key IT-OT initiatives…

IT-OT initiatives of OPTCL

OPTCL, GRIDCO, SLDC (OGS)-WAN: OPTCL has its own WAN for accessing its business applications. The WAN seamlessly integrates with various communication networks including multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), OPGW and the internet virtual private network. The OPGW link has been extended to 67 grid substations with a bandwidth of 2 Mbps and back-hole bandwidth of 50 Mbps to serve the maximum number of users. The IT business application has been extended to other grid substations and offices through the MPLS link and point-to-point connectivity with a bandwidth of 256 kbps and back-hole bandwidth of 20 Mbps. There are plans to upgrade the MPLS bandwidth to 512 kbps with a back-hole of 50 Mbps, which will provide better and uninterrupted access to IT services to all the grid substations.

AMI: OPTCL has started the AMI project (as part of state government’s smart grid initiatives) to automate the process of reading energy acc­ounting meters installed at all interface points and also to build a platform for meter data and its analysis. AMI has been implemented across 124 locations including six powerhouses and grid substations, with a total of 846 meters. The contract was awarded in February 2014, but the project has not yet been completed because the user acceptance testing has not been confirmed by the state load despatch centre (SLDC) or Grid Corporation of Odisha (GRIDCO). OPTCL introduced a new version of meters under the variant device language message specification-3 category, 2016. The implementer re-engineered the firmware, after which the installation was completed for all grids and integration of new meters was addressed.

e-Shakti: OPTCL has implemented an integrated information system, called e-Shakti, for enterprise resource planning (ERP) across the organisation to ensure smooth operation through the deployment of various resources in an effective manner. The modules have been implemented for human resources, payroll, pension, procurement, inventory, projects, finance and energy. ERP enables the integration of different functional and geographically dispersed units. This results in improved decision-making in day-to-day business transactions and reduction in transaction and coordination costs.

GIS: GIS has been implemented in 127 locations of OPTCL. It facilitates close monitoring of transmission elements. All the engineering assets of OPTCL like 127 grid substations, 8,427.445 route km of lines and 29,456 EHT towers have now been georeferenced under the GIS project. It mainly facilitates asset management, outage ma­nagement, planning, refurbishment and ex­pan­sion for better decision-making by using geospatial information. The GIS project is also integrated with e-Shakti and Bhulekh data to retrieve real-time asset information. A user-friendly graphical user interface has been developed for easy access to the web-based power atlas. During the cyclones Fani, Titli and Amphan, this application helped in information retrieval and report generation. A proposal has been obtained for the augmentation of 29 new substations, construction of 525 route km of lines, and maintenance of the GIS application. However, the current implementation is 2D in nature and a 3D view of all elements is possible using special database features in GIS.

Cybersecurity: OPTCL has an ISO 27001:2013 Information Security Management System certification for the data centres of OPTCL, GRIDCO and the SLDC as well as the SCADA main control centre and backup control centre of the SLDC. OPTCL has 21 policies, 10 procedures and 114 controls as part of its networking and cybersecurity infrastructure. OPTCL is involved in cybersecurity activities like vulnerability assessment, internal audits and cybersecurity awareness training twice a year. A crisis management plan will be implemented soon.

Facility management services (FMS) support: On a day-to-day basis, FMS support includes zonal IT centre (ZITC) support, helpdesk support and data centre support. Under ZITC, hands-on support is provided to officials in field units for the successful implementation of ERP along with GIS and AMI. Further, field officials can call the centralised service helpdesk to log the call and get assistance from a designated person. At the data centre, FMS undertakes service delivery management, management of IT peripheral at the user side, data centre operations and maintenance, server admi­ni­stration and management, database administration and backup restore management.

CCTV surveillance system: For remote surveillance, strategically significant grid substations of OPTCL have been equipped with CCTV cameras. These include 63 grid substations and three stores of OPTCL. Of these, a pilot project has gone live at four grid substations and is currently under warranty for three years. The implementation of Phase 1 was completed at eight substations in August 2019, while work is in progress at two grid substations. Phase 2 (at 23 grid substations) has also been completed and gone live while Phase 3 (at 26 grid substations and three stores) is currently in progress. The work is expected to be completed in 2021-22. With CCTV surveillance, major equipment like transformers, poles, isolators, switchyard boun­da­ries, control room and main gate are being monitored 24×7 through IP-based CCTV came­ras. Video analytics over the footage is also be­ing planned to further mitigate risks.

The installation of pan, tilt and zoom cameras in 66 substations has been completed for remote and local surveillance. This will help OPTCL in the supervision of operations and maintenance activities. The traditional power line carrier communication-based inter-tripping scheme has been upgraded to DTPC, with a total of 86 panels operating on OPGW links. The fibre network is also utilised here for providing OPTCL’s video-conferencing, ERP and webmail services to grid substations. About 10 new locations have been added to the existing OSI-SCADA system of 186 substations. However, for the accurate monitoring of power systems, 29 PMUs have been installed at eight locations in OPTCL under the unified real-time dynamic state measurement system scheme. Further, OPTCL has developed a user-friendly mobile compatibility responsive portal with benefits like new service request, auto assignment of tasks and grievances to different offices of discoms, execution of work, communication to consumers, grievance management and online payment. Besides, OPTCL has established a videoconferencing facility at 94 major grid substations and locations of OPTCL, which is largely operated over the OGS-WAN network. OPTCL has greatly benefited from this technology during Covid-19.

Future plans

OPTCL plans to establish a Tier 3 standard data centre at its corporate headquarters, Bhuba­neswar, to house various application servers for centra­lised operations. It is also planning to re­vamp and operationalise the existing SCADA backup control centre at its 400 kV Meramundali grid substation. For left-out business modules and unsupported ERP, a new ERP end-to-end office suite solution is under consideration.

OPTCL is also coming up with a primary data centre (PDC), which will not only cater to OPTCL, GRIDCO and the SLDC, but also to three discoms (SOUTHCO, NESCO and WESCO) in the state of Odisha. Co-location will help provide a high level of control over the facility. Equipment and services will always be available without any failover due to backup systems. It will also be helpful in the effective management of all the IT assets. The civil works for the PDC have already been completed.

Further, as per the advice of the Forum of Regulators, the SAMAST project has been taken up for end-to-end operation scheduling, energy accounting and open access approval to computerise all IT back-end activities of the SLDC.

Challenges and the way ahead

As OPTCL is transitioning from a closed system to an open system, it is expected to be exposed to security risks and cyberthreats. Further, modification and addition of smart equipment and economic constraints may hamper the progress. The Covid-19 pandemic also affected the data transfer capability, delayed metering and billing, ceased maintenance work and increased the vulnerability of systems due to overexposure to on­line activity. The convergence of IT-OT justifies the smart grid concept. Effective strategies and policies can protect the process, people, profit and efficiency of the organisation.

Based on a presentation by B.B. Mehta, Director, SLDC, OPTCL, at recent Smart Utilities conference