Market Data Terminus

Market Data Terminus

Utilities Plan $293 Million in New SCADA/EMS Projects

By Bob Smock, Publisher

North American electric utilities plan to install $293 million worth of SCADA projects, energy management systems (EMS) and related projects over the next three years, according to the latest survey of utility buying plans conducted by PennWell Research. That`s a decline from the $373 million worth of similar projects identified in last year`s survey.

Specifically, the new survey found utilities plan to spend:

$243 million on 111 new and 206 updated SCADA or EMS systems, including nearly 3,500 RTUs and add-ons,

$45 million on mapboards or dynamic power system mimic diagram projects,

$3 million on SCADA/EMS consulting services and

$2 million on related communication systems.

PennWell Research defines a SCADA system as a computerized system that provides data acquisition and control at remote sites. The control system is defined as an EMS if it includes software programs that provide for automatic generation control and power system security analysis or interchange scheduling. The annual survey covers a database of 3,500 U.S. and Canadian electric utilities. All utilities with a peak load of at least 20 MW and most with a load of at least 10 MW are contacted regarding SCADA/EMS plans. Of the 317 SCADA/EMS projects identified in the latest survey, 179 worth $146 million are scheduled to be awarded during the 12-month period beginning August 1997. However, past experience shows that about 58 percent of the projects will be awarded according to the plan and the rest will likely be delayed. Leading states/provinces for the new projects are New York, Arizona, Florida, Texas, Ontario, North Carolina and Ohio.

Operating Platforms

SCADA technology has made vast improvements over the past few decades. Systems have moved from mainframes and “dumb” RTUs to minicomputers and microprocessor-based RTUs, to distributed controls. Adoption of client-server technology is one of the latest advancements. This approach allows programs to be broken into components. It enables WAN distribution of system networks, as well as peer-linking of multiple SCADA systems.

This year`s survey showed that 59 percent of planned SCADA systems will use PC-based operating platforms, about the same as in last year`s survey. Workstations will be used as the platform in 27 percent of the planned systems, mini-computers in 13 percent, and mainframes in 1 percent. These percentages reflect those projects for which the platform has been chosen.

The survey also covered communications systems. Radio is the most widely planned form of communication, either by itself or in conjunction with other communication types. Radio was chosen for 28 of the 105 projects that have a communications system commitment. Fiber optics was in second place with 20 projects, followed by leased telephone lines and microwave radio with nine each.

Figures 1-4 show leading SCADA/EMS systems in the current U.S. market. Figures 1 and 2 show the top system suppliers in the electric utility SCADA/EMS industry in 1996 in terms of project value and number of projects. This information was provided to PennWell by the utilities contacted during the study. These figures cover full system awards only, not add-ons or upgrades.

Figure 1 shows vendors that were awarded projects in 1996 with a value in excess of $3 million. Figures 3 and 4 represent the vendors that utilities identified as possible vendors for projects planned for the next three years.

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