The Efficacy and Challenges of SCADA and Smart Grid Integration


Posted: February 10, 2016 | By: Les Cardwell, Annie Shebanow

Smart Grid / SCADA Integration

SCADA integration into the Smart Grid is not difficult, and connected by both electrical and data networks, allows for central and distributed aggregation of information and control over the entire utility electrical device network as depicted in Figure. 3.


Figure 3: SCADA/Smart Grid Integration (Source:

SCADA empowers the consumer by interconnecting energy management systems to enable the customer to manage their own energy use and control costs. It allows the grid to be self-healing by instantly responding automatically to outages, power quality issues, and system problems. Properly configured, it is tolerant to attack—both physical and cyber-attacks—and optimizes the grid assets by monitoring and optimizing those assets while minimizing maintenance and operations costs. Further, it also enables competitive energy markets and mitigates the bloat often incurred in the effort to obtain pricing guarantees.

To adequately deliver and administer the products and services made possible by the Smart Grid, intelligence and control need to exist along the entire supply chain. This includes the generation and transmission of electricity from inception to delivery end-points at the customer’s side of the meter, and includes both fixed and mobile devices in the architecture.

Digital communications on a Smart Grid occur over a variety of devices, technologies, and protocols that include wired and wireless telephone, voice and data dispatch radio, fiber optics, power line carriers, and satellite. Decision Control Software (DCS) allows for dynamic grid management that involves monitoring a significant number of control points. To be fully effective and operational, monitoring occurs for every power line and piece of equipment in the distribution system, in addition to allowing the customers to monitor and control their own devices and usage. This results in considerable volumes of data to be organized, analyzed, and used for both manual and automated decision software that comes in two basic categories: decentralized and back office.

Decentralized software is necessary due to the magnitude of the devices and data collection and computation, which precludes a centralized data collection solution. As the technology matures, intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) will evolve to mitigate the collection, organization, and data analysis necessary for performing data routing, decision making, and other actions that may be necessary based on the information received. This functionality exists either as part of the firmware, or via configurable functions and settings within each device.

Back office software is typically that software which is used as part of the utility’s line-of-business (LOB) software solutions necessary to conduct the business of the organization. This typically includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Accounting & Business Systems (ABSs)
  • Customer Information Systems (CISs)
    • Customer Billing & Payment
    • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Work & Workforce Management
    • Performance & Productivity Management
  • Engineering & Operations (E&Os)
  • Engineering Analysis
    • Circuit Modeling & Analysis
    • Reliability Analysis
  • Real-Time Distribution Analysis
    • Outage Management System (OMS)
    • Active Distribution Grid Management
  • Geographic Information Systems (GISs)
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

The net effect on these solutions by the deployment of IEDs and two-way digital communications is a more powerful, useful, and effective solution set for both the utility and the consumer.

Want to find out more about this topic?

Request a FREE Technical Inquiry!