Advanced Control Systems (ACS; Norcross, Georgia, U.S.) has supplied the first two of 63 Connex 30 Substation Managers to Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU; Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.) as part of an ongoing reliability improvement project. Installation was a joint effort involving both Springs Utilities and ACS. Although the utility will reap significant communication and intelligence improvements by adopting the Connex 30 solution, the deciding factor was the substantial cost savings made possible by the flexible ACS approach to upgrading, which has proven advantages over direct replacement of an old RTU.

In planning for the project, CSU recognized that rewiring and retermination represented a substantial portion of potential renovation costs. The Advanced Control Systems solution leaves nearly all local terminations and wiring untouched. Although it is too early in the project for CSU to calculate cost savings, past ACS customers have reported compelling results.

According to Clint Cowan, business unit manager for substation integration at ACS, “Our first deployment of this strategy — upgrading Landis & Gyr/Moore RTUs at a large Midwestern utility — resulted in savings of $34,000 per substation. Engineering costs were nearly eliminated, and overall project expenses were 59% lower, compared to a replacement solution.” Cowan continued, “We're fortunate to have Springs Utilities as a customer. Their technical knowledge and commitment to their customers' needs is exemplary.”

Gary Koch, CSU project manager, added, “ACS is supplying exactly what we need: an economical approach with ongoing support, and increased communication and intelligence capabilities that will be the foundation for future substation initiatives.”

The project, which is expected to take four years, uses Connex 30 Substation Managers to upgrade Ferranti Outpost RTUs that are no longer supported by the original manufacturer or the company that now owns the product line. A Connex 30 replaces the Ferranti hardware, then connects to the existing Ferranti termination modules. Since the utility is moving from an obsolete protocol to the open DNP3 protocol, Colorado Springs Utilities will create the database with Connex/NTU Explorer drag-and-drop configuration software.