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Medina EC News

New System Operations Team Improves Reliability

MEC brings technical capabilities in-house to provide reliable service

In 2021, Medina Electric Cooperative began researching the idea of an in-house 24/7 system operations team to increase the situational awareness of field crews and their location with a goal of improving the safety of our employees, contractors and the public. They also help ensure the reliable and efficient operation of the co-op’s distribution system. A system operations team performs grid monitoring and controls operations for the flow of electricity, including outage management and dispatching lineworkers to restore power as well as working closely with Medina EC’s wholesale power supplier.

After much research, it was decided that this team needed to be housed in a separate building, built with extra precautions in case of natural disasters such as weather emergencies. In spring 2022, Medina EC’s board of directors voted to approve the construction of this new center that is built to withstand tornado force winds. In addition to our system operations team and equipment, the building also houses part of our information and technology team and their equipment.

The cooperative began staffing the system operations team in winter 2021. The operators worked out of a small conference room at the cooperative’s corporate office while construction took place on the same property. Construction was completed and the system operators and IT teams moved into the building at the beginning of 2023.

Medina EC broke ground in 2021 on a new building to house the system Operations and IT teams.

Construction on the building was completed and the teams moved in earlier this year, utilizing new equipment to better manage the efficient and safe operation of our local distribution of electricity.

The system operators utilize a remote communications system, known as SCADA, to monitor our distribution grid in real time while collecting data from various sensors, devices and control systems to provide up-to-date information on the performance and status of Medina EC’s distribution grid. Currently, Medina EC has this communications system only in the distribution substations and on metering equipment, but the co-op has begun a project to extend SCADA to more than 750 electronic devices on more than 10,000 miles of distribution lines. In addition, the new technology will be able to run algorithms and analytics that can detect faults, abnormalities and deviations from normal operating conditions. When a fault occurs, such as a power outage or equipment malfunction, the system can quickly pinpoint the affected area, isolate the problem and provide diagnostic information to aid in troubleshooting repair.

Medina EC members are already seeing the benefits of having an in-house system operations team: full-time grid monitoring, enhanced situational awareness, and improved outage restoration times and communication are just a few that contribute to the reliable, efficient and safe operation of our power distribution.