New software supports secure grid communications

Oct. 16, 2003 — ALSTOM’s Transmission & Distribution (T&D) Sector, a supplier of energy and information technology and solutions, has launched a new version of its communications software to prevent unauthorized intrusions into communications between utility control centers.

The software, called E-terracomm v2.3, is designed to reinforce grid security by supporting secure ICCP-TASE.2 (Inter-control Center Communications Protocol), an internationally accepted standard for the exchange of real-time data between utility control centers.

E-terracomm v2.3 allows utilities charged with assuring secure interconnected transmission operation, to authenticate and/or encrypt their communications between control centers. Authentication certifies that the right users are involved and encryption ensures that the data is secure.

ALSTOM T&D’s Energy Automation & Information Business developed this software and put its beta release through a joint, EPRI-funded interoperability test (IOT) with several other vendors in August, 2003, and passed all of the requirements. This means that ALSTOM’s product supports TLS, transport layer security, a protocol that guarantees privacy and data integrity between client/server applications communicating over the Internet.

E-terracomm v2.3 also supports application level authentication (MACE – MMS Application Certificate Exchange). While TLS ensures that the client node is communicating with the intended server node (and vice-versa), MACE ensures that the TASE.2 applications communicating on those nodes are the intended ones.

Kevin Perry, Director of Information Technology at Southwest Power Pool was one of three official observers of the IOT. “ALSTOM is a major provider of ICCP systems used by utility companies and reliability coordinators throughout the US and Canada to exchange real-time operational data. With the release of e-terracomm v2.3 and demonstrated interoperability with other ICCP software providers, ALSTOM is providing a significant contribution to securing these critical systems. This will help ensure the reliability of the interconnected transmission grids,” said Perry.

“We’ve witnessed the impact when our physical infrastructure becomes overloaded and events cascade between critical equipment. What about the mission-critical data being exchanged across communication lines? The latest version of our e-terracomm software and our Substation Automation data server (e-terracontrol) include technology such as secure ICCP to prevent unauthorized intrusion, such as cyber spoofing which might ultimately impact stable system operation,” said Larry Cochrane, Vice President of Research and Development for ALSTOM T&D’s Energy Automation & Information Business.

Southwest Power Pool, Inc. is a group of 50 electric utilities serving more than 4 million customers across all or parts of eight southwestern states. This membership is comprised of investor-owned utilities, municipal systems, generation and transmission cooperatives, state authorities, federal agencies, wholesale generators, and power marketers.

SPP serves as a regional reliability council of the North American Electric Reliability Council and, since 1997 has provided independent security coordination and tariff administration, pursuant to a FERC approved tariff, across its service area with over 33,000 miles of transmission lines with a gross plant investment approaching $4 billion.

ALSTOM’s Transmission & Distribution (T&D) sector is a total solution provider in power transmission and distribution. ALSTOM (T&D) is present at all stages in the supply chain of electricity. From the power plant to the end-user, ALSTOM (T&D) offers the widest and most reliable range of products and services on the market.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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