As Garland Power & Light’s (GP&L) subject matter expert for the PRC-005 and PRC-008 standards developed by NERC, George Beck manages the utility’s relay protection system that helps ensure the power stays on and Garland’s 28 substation operations remain safe and compliant.
Located northeast of Dallas, Garland’s population is nearly 236,000. Established in 1923, GP&L serves more than 69,000 customers, is the fourth largest municipal utility in Texas, and the 41st largest in the U.S.
When it was time to improve how his team monitored its substations, Beck chose the SMARTest solution from MinMax Technologies. While GP&L researched multiple solution providers, Beck said it boiled down to analyzing the ROI for SMARTest. After checking customer references, GP&L selected MinMax’s product.
Before implementing SMARTest by MinMax, Beck said GP&L’s protection and control system was good, but recording events and equipment testing were done manually and therefore time consuming.
“MinMax addressed the recording and reporting components for us,” said Beck. “For example, before SMARTest, we had four technicians performing monthly inspections in substations, manually taking notes. It was very laborious.”
Beck said SMARTest positively impacts reliability and compliance for GP&L.
“Now, a problem is instantly reported via email, whereas in the past it was logged into books that were turned in at the end of shifts. SMARTest creates a trail for auditing, which is key for utilities staying compliant. Additionally, we can run reports for audits much more easily by using the information centrally located in the SMARTest database.”
“SMARTest is also fully configurable. We were able to customize the solution for our needs. It has improved processes and efficiency for our technicians, and the risk of losing data is gone. We like that it’s web-based and accessible from anywhere with a high level of security for administrative access. All data is backed up to a cloud-based system,” Beck adds.
“The biggest change I’ve seen in my 14 years at GP&L is the migration from a mechanical world to a microprocessor-based technology world. This has changed the tools we work with and how I do my job. Before the Northeast blackout in 2003, the industry didn’t have standards in place. Afterward, it was like a revival, and our industry woke up saying ‘wait, we need to report and monitor our substation’s testing.’”
That was the birth of the PRC standards in which Beck became well-versed, ensuring GP&L’s Protection & Control team was diligent in how it monitored and recorded every substation event, time stamping every test report so that the utility remains safe and compliant with NERC’s regulations.
“This solution helps us keep an eye on things at all times and can provide instant reporting of tampering. For example, if the perimeter fence is broken or ground grid has been compromised, the tampering evidence, including pictures, is logged.”
MinMax Technologies is happy to provide the security and confidence that GP&L needs for efficiency and to help keep the City of Garland powered at all times.
George Beck T&D Supervisor, Substation Electronics Garland Power & Light February 10, 2016