S&C Electric Company announced the first real-world deployment of a new service offering to remotely monitor S&C’s Wind-Turbine Style Vista Switchgear. This new service was pioneered on Vista switchgear at Infigen Energy’s 50-MW Kumeyaay Wind Farm, located 65 miles east of San Diego in Boulevard, California.
"Like any equipment, the switchgear needs to be maintained properly through routine inspection and testing," says Dan Girard, director of Business Development, Renewables and Energy Storage, S&C. "Per industry practice, this is normally done annually with a field service technician, but our new service allows us to remotely access this equipment and provide monthly reports at a fraction of the time and expense for the customer."
Infigen uses Vista switchgear in the base of all 25 of the 2MW wind turbines at its Kumeyaay Wind Farm. S&C had a contract for inspections and testing of the equipment, which required an S&C field service technician to travel to the site.
The technician would then test the relays and associated hardware, verify relay settings and report on the fault events that the relays had detected. After S&C established its Global Support and Monitoring Center, Infigen became interested in more frequent and less costly equipment maintenance through remote monitoring services, assuring that any problems don’t go unnoticed for an extended period.
S&C’s engineers designed a solution that uses local communications and sources of power to establish a secure connection with relays used in the Vista switchgear. The same relays that S&C technicians would test in the field can now be accessed through S&C’s Global Support and Monitoring Center at any time.
"Before deploying the solution in the field, S&C tested it extensively at our Chicago headquarters," says Girard. "We used the same voltage source and equipment that would be installed on-site, and made sure communication was simple and easy in advance of the deployment at the Kumeyaay Wind Farm."
Installation on the first group of wind turbines took just two days and required minimal downtime for each turbine. S&C is now providing Infigen with monthly inspection and testing reports. In addition, the monthly reports provide Infigen with documented verification of the relay settings helping with on-site operational safety.