BC Hydro Powers up with Digitization
Here’s the latest Cisco case study on BC Hydro. Sure, I wrote about BC Hydro a while ago here: BC Hydro, Cisco and Itron – a Powerhouse in Canada.What’s new? Well, now I can give you some ‘Where are they now’ facts – it’s a real business success for BC Hydro, their customers, and for Cisco and our partners.
Companies like BC Hydro are in the lead when it comes to embracing digital business to deliver reliable, high quality services for customers and to enable remote automation and monitoring to keep the service levels high. As the main British Columbia electric distributor, BC Hydro now provides 1.9 million residential, commercial, and industrial customers with energy. The hydro utility has now transformed to a digital business with Cisco connected networking, security, and smart grid solutions.
The power utilities industry is all about customer service, whilst maintaining safety and security within a strong regulatory environment. Sol Lancashire, senior telecom architect at BC Hydro, is quoted in the case study as stating “We needed a flexible, open architecture to support our evolving smart grid. Cisco provided an architecture, the necessary infrastructure, and ongoing support to bring the diverse elements together. The Connected Grid products are optimized for the electric utility industry and give us a reliable telecommunications foundation to be able to support increasingly challenging energy delivery requirements.”
Well, enough of the Cisco selling (though where would we be without it?!). What about results? Well, one of the key benefits has been the ability to restore power faster in an outage. This actually improves safety for customers (imagine the dangers at nighttime od unexpected lights out). The important thing is that the system not only detects outages and enables faster response, but isolates the outage to a smaller geographic area – so less customers are affected.
There are cost savings too. Meters now automatically send hourly interval usage data twice a day (the old manual system meant the majority of meter data was sent once every two months!). Customers get better usage visibility, and they too can lower their bills by looking at their own consumption and making economies.
BC Hydro has used Cisco security solutions for years, where Cisco ISE (Identity Services Engine) is used to secure the Wi-Fi in all offices, stations, remote substations, and line trucks in the field. The new integrated approach includes other parts of the infrastructure as Lancashire says:
“Now, using International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61850-based digital relays, Cisco Ethernet switches, and fibre optic cables we can achieve high-speed fault protection, allowing us to significantly improve the power quality and reliability to the residents of the City of Vancouver,” says Lancashire.
The transformation to a digital business is a journey. BC Hydro plans to enhance and expand its Cisco RF mesh network to accommodate additional distribution automation devices. Other services under consideration or being planned include automated demand response, smart street lighting, and insightful analytics. “We’re laying the foundation for a common, secure network infrastructure to enable grid automation applications that will improve the safety and reliability of the power system for our customers,” says Lancashire.
You can find out more about the Case study by going to The Internet of Everything Case Study: BC Hydro, where you’ll see the Cisco and partner products and services, and the full write up.
You can find out more about Cisco in the utilities industry by going to www.cisco.com/go/utilities.