Our Cooperative Roadmap (Roadmap) is United Power’s functional plan for the future, and focuses on four specific pillars the cooperative views as essential to strengthening its position as a leader in the electric industry. In previous newsletters, we have highlighted our commitment to pursing affordable and sustainable power, optimizing our distribution system, and our commitment to member and community engagement. The final Roadmap pillar focuses on our information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) systems strategies, which allow us to be efficient and functional in maintaining our distribution system.
Advancing technologies play a critical role in how United Power responds to and prevents outages. Without the insight computerized systems provide, the cooperative would not be able to see in-depth information about grid performance and conduct targeted maintenance. In a way, this pillar is foundational for meeting the requirements of grid optimization.
“United Power has taken an approach of embracing IT,” said Rex Webster, an infrastructure engineer at the cooperative. “It’s where they integrate us into decision making that allows us to shape and guide workflows, processes, and systems.”
United Power’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is a computerized system that provides the cooperative with information about energy usage. It helps guide grid construction and improvements and ensure sufficient power is delivered where members need it. In many cases, we can use this system to identify and respond to outages before members may even be aware. It is the availability of this infrastructure that also allows us to offer Power Portal to our members, where you can view energy usage in 15-minute segments and make energy-saving habit changes.
The implementation of informational technology strategies would not be complete without factoring in the ever-increasing threat to cybersecurity.
“We’ve implemented many state-of-the-art cybersecurity tools and monitoring services on both our field devices and our corporate networks,” Webster said.
Technology is advancing rapidly, and new technology may be on the horizon that offers even greater insight into our distribution system. While we have no way of knowing what may be available tomorrow, our systems are built to adapt as changes take place. We are constantly looking for advantageous options that enable us to better serve our members.
“Our Cooperative Roadmap is looking ahead over the next 10 years as we become a more fully functional distribution system operator,” said Reliability Engineer Tyler Bain. “But in reality, we’re already down that path, and we’re already deploying and utilizing the systems that are going to make some of those futuristic thoughts possible today.”