At Alabama Power Co., access to a distribution supervisory control and data acquisition (DSCADA) system has been available to the distribution operator since 1991. DSCADA provides remote access to distribution substations and automated devices along the distribution circuits. This remote capability facilitates the operation of the electric distribution system.

Today, the distribution operator has remote access to more than 4,400 automated distribution system devices including distribution substations, pole-mounted reclosers, gang-operated switches, regulators, distribution line monitoring sites and distribution switched capacitor sites. Smart distribution automation starts in the substation, and full substation telemetry is recommended. This automation extends to components of the distribution circuit. Each automated device provides full remote capability, which includes monitoring of the typical power measurements, fault detection and power quality.

The switching diagram used to be a paper wallboard-based map. During the 1990s, while the operator was gaining increased access to remotely monitored and controlled field devices, all switching activity was manually documented on the wallboard-based map. In 2002, the utility began transitioning from the switching diagram to an electronic medium on the operator’s desktop workstation. While the switching diagram had been migrated to the desktop, the switching order was still being maintained on paper switching order forms. With the initial deployment of the integrated distribution management system (IDMS) in the control center in 2012, the paper switching order was transitioned to electronic format.

Alabama Power Co.

Seamless Integration

The IDMS provides a seamless integration of DSCADA and the electronic switching diagram (the official switching map). Geographic information system source data is imported to create the geographical switching map. The geographical displays are connected to the traditional substation schematic diagrams, which have been modified to enable connectivity within the schematic diagram. Thus, the operator now has the capability to trace connectivity from within the substation schematic to outside the substation, to the distribution feeder, to contiguous feeders at normally open switches and to the end of the line.

The operator now has a fully connected, operational model and map of the electric distribution system. All switching activity for capital as well as operations and maintenance projects is performed and maintained electronically. The daily log, as a variation of the switching order, provides the capability for recording and maintenance of the daily ad hoc switching activity performed throughout the operating day. With the deployment of IDMS to all five distribution control centers, the distribution operating personnel have the dynamic capability to back up each other, both within the control center and between control centers.