New control system on line at 6.8-GW Grand Coulee hydropower plant

Grand Coulee Dam

A new control system implemented by communications technology company Real-Time Innovations is now operational at the 6,809-MW Grand Coulee hydroelectric plant.

The "RTI Connext DDS" system installed by Real-Time Innovations replaces a previous supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system as part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers modernization program.

"The Grand Coulee Dam is a key national asset," RTI CEO Stan Schneider said. "There is perhaps no greater challenge than to simultaneously deliver both state-of-the-art technology and ultra-mature operation."

RTI said the system must control 24 turbine units and 12 pumps, spread across Grand Coulee's four major power plants. The system must also handle three high-voltage transmission switchyards and a fully-redundant control room while distributing up to 300,000 data values reliably over large distances.

"This is perhaps the most challenging and mission-critical control system in the power industry," said Dave Brown, Chief of the USACE Automated Controls and Cyber Security branch. "The RTI middleware implements our communications, module failover, wide-area routing, control room integration, and operator interface. Our extensive tests proved that the new control system is capable of handling all our performance, scale, reliability, and scalability requirements."

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