Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) is New Jersey’s oldest regulated gas and electric delivery utility, serving nearly three-quarters of the state’s population. A subsidiary of PSEG, a diversified energy and energy services company, PSE&G is one of the largest combined electric and gas companies in the United States.
The nerve center of the company’s energy transmission business is a control room staffed by five shifts of four dispatchers each, charged with monitoring the power flow between distribution points. The business of balancing energy loads, anticipating trouble spots and fixing downed lines is complex, time-sensitive and high-profile, not to mention stressful. Feeding this critical decision-making process are two information walls powered by Activu, a network software-based display and control system from Imtech Corporation (www.activu.com).
The older of the two walls, which monitors 120 substations and switching points within PSE&G’s territory, was not originally designed by Imtech.
“The problem with the first wall was that all the information that it consolidated from our remote terminals was static,” said Paul Rapcienski, PSE&G’s facilities manager. “Making changes of any kind was a reconfiguration nightmare since the wall’s control system was hardware-based. Because we needed more flexibility, we decided to replace the control system with Activu. Now if we need to manipulate images or add information sources, it’s no big deal.”
Information walls in the PSE&G control room help dispatchers make split-second decisions.Click here to enlarge image
There were also problems with image resolution on the older of the two walls.
Since the newer information wall from Activu is network software-based, it offers greater flexibility and scalability. Activu uses standard Win32 servers and is compatible with all data display technologies. Multiple Activu display walls or screens can be dynamically linked and controlled to allow data conferencing, collaboration and remote monitoring between sites.
“Soon we’ll begin using Activu’s ability to manipulate applications,” Rapcienski said. “We plan, for example, to use the wall to display and interact with our energy control system software, energizing and de-energizing circuits in response to shifting customer demand. Among other things, it’s a great learning tool, since everyone sees what’s happening and more experienced dispatchers can explain a particular approach to the entire shift. It encourages discussion.”
Adjacent to this “legacy wall” is a second, newly constructed Activu wall, featuring a three-by-three matrix of low-profile Clarity display cubes. The wall merges nine video sources, including security camera coverage, weather reports, news and lightning detection, as well as DVD and VCR feeds. The wall replaces four television monitors and has the advantage of accommodating greater amounts of data that can be manipulated at will.
“If the weather shifts and we decide to focus on lightning monitoring instead of flow control, we can change the display so that it better addresses the changing situation,” Rapcienski said.
“In addition, we save enormous space with the Clarity cubes. They can be maintained from the front and are only 16 inches deep; that’s less than a quarter of the depth of the older cubes,” he said. “As the first wall requires upgrades or replacements, we’ll be moving its function to the newer one.”
In addition to the information walls supporting the utility’s transmission business, PSEG Energy Resources and Trade has two Activu installations in its new energy trading room, built in response to utility deregulation.