Perle Systems Case Study
Perle IOLAN Electric Utility Terminal Servers provide secure remote user authentication
and management capabilities for Phasor Measurement Units (PMU’s) that
keep the grid stable and enhance reliability.
The Utilities Industry is not exempt from being hauled into the 21st century and subjected to “smart” technology. Similar to a “smart” phone – a more advanced phone with more computing capability and connectivity, Utilities are working on the “smart grid”. The smart grid generally refers to a class of technology used to bring utility electricity delivery systems up to date, using computer-based remote control and automation. The “grid” is the network that carries electricity from the plants where it is generated to the users and includes substations, transformers, switches and many other devices. For decades, utility companies sent workers out to gather much of the data needed to provide electricity. They read meters, locate and replace damaged or broken equipment and measure voltage. Adding the “smart” to the grid, essentially involves computerising the grid – adding 2-way digital communication technology to devices associated with the grid. Some obvious benefits are massive cost savings associated with expensive visits to remote substation locations, as well as enhanced cyber-security.
In 2010, when the United States Congress made $52.9 million available to the DOE for funding smart grid technology, the Western Interconnection Synchrophasor Project (WISP) was born. Synchrophasor measurements are a type of smart grid technology that can keep a grid stable and enhance reliability. The technology establishes a virtual firewall between generation and transmission to protect equipment. Key measurements include positive sequence voltage, real and reactive voltages, current, and frequency rate of change which have been attributed to addressing problems that surface during major blackouts.
Over 160 Schweitzer SEL-487E Station Phasor Measurement Units (PMU’s) were purchased an installed throughout the northwest United States, in order to achieve better situational awareness, wide area control and protection, model validation, system performance and event analysis. Simply put, when the equipment is protected, the grid is stable and that prevents blackouts.
The SEL-487E PMU provides data communication over a serial RS232 port. Agencies within the DOE needed to find a solution that would allow personnel to remotely manage the PMU’s using a remote RADIUS authentication and authorization server – as required under the NERC CIP directive 005 R3.2.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, (NERC) is responsible for working with all stakeholders to develop standards for power system operation, monitoring and enforcing compliance with those standards, assessing resource adequacy, and providing educational and training resources as part of an accreditation program to ensure power system operators remain qualified and proficient. Updated by President Bush in 2003, the standard is known as Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) is a directive that relates to the preparedness and response to serious incidents that involve the critical infrastructure of a region or nation. NERC CIP broadened the definition of infrastructure, in accordance with the Patriot Act, as the physical and virtual systems that are so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety. 1
In order for personnel to remotely manage the PMUs, Perle IOLAN Electric Utility Terminal Servers were selected.
The DOE wanted to leverage the Perle IOLAN Terminal Server as a device that would provide a method for users to authenticate via RADIUS. The IOLAN would provide the access level username and password to the PMU, allowing the field users to perform their duties, while obscuring the password.
By working closely together, Perle was able to ensure the IOLAN Electric Utility Terminal Server provided the different levels of password authentication to the PMUs, and the DOE were able to meet their NERC CIP compliance obligations without restructuring their existing network or purchasing additional hardware.
About the Department of Energy: http://www.energy.gov
The mission of the Energy Department is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.