Developing Innovative Project Solutions to Meet Today’s Social Distancing Requirements

Meeting the commissioning and testing requirements of a project’s supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system can be demanding due to current social distancing protocols. For Ulteig, performing SCADA integration for clients traditionally involves sending engineers to project locations throughout the U.S. to verify the full functionality of the final systems necessary to connect to the grid. But due to current COVID-19 travel restrictions and “stay at home” safety requirements, that’s a less desirable solution.

On a recent project for a generation owner in Texas, Ulteig implemented a remote solution to handle the requirements of the job. Ulteig engineers worked with the asset owner to deploy a laptop–accessible by Ulteig–to the project site. They then worked one-on-one with onsite personnel to connect to individual devices to program, troubleshoot and access the site’s Local Area Network.

The key to Ulteig’s solution was working with the asset owner to document the cybersecurity and malware management Standard Operating Procedures. The remote laptop fits the definition of a Transient Cyber Asset under NERC-CIP-003-7, so the owner must implement plans to address “Transient Cyber Asset and Removable Media Malicious Code Risk Mitigation.” The integration was performed from a thousand miles away, and the utility was able to stay on track with their construction schedule. 

Sending a laptop to the remote site was just one of the options developed to meet the needs of Ulteig clients. A renewable generation owner of a wind farm in Nebraska required SCADA integration completed to meet their Commercial Operation Date but wanted to minimize bringing new people onto the job site. Ulteig’s engineers worked with the owner’s IT department to establish a VPN connection to the project site.

Superior communication and coordination between critical staff already onsite (and all offtakers of data from the substation) were required to integrate the project remotely. This was an effective and safe solution, keeping unnecessary personnel offsite and avoiding travel.

Every company is dealing with business disruptions due to Coronavirus. And when this is all over, companies will get back to business as usual. Today, and in the years to come, Ulteig will continue to develop innovative solutions to meet the business needs of its clients.

Author: Seth Maslowski, Technical Manager