Aurora extends surveillance to more substations
Kate Barker Wed, 25 Jun 2014
Aurora Energy is rolling out video surveillance at four of its substations after a trial showed it could reduce site visits and potential threats.
The Otago lines company had a surveillance system installed at its Andersons Bay substation about a year ago.
Christchurch-based firm Quasar Systems, a supplier and integrator of Systems with Intelligence video surveillance technology, is working with Aurora to commission the equipment.
Quasar managing director Richard Schwass says Aurora is the first firm in New Zealand to use this type of technology, developed by Canada-based SWI. He says Quasar is now working with other lines companies on the installation of cameras.
“There’s a lot of interest. It seems to be a topic that almost all can see a tangible financial benefit in doing it.”
Aurora will have between two and three cameras at its substations. Schwass says they can install up to 16 cameras in one box at a site. One North Island utility Quasar is currently working with is considering about 12 cameras at one substation.
Schwass says reducing the amount of copper theft is an incentive for bumping up surveillance at these sites. Cutting down substation visits when there is a fault is also seen as a tangible benefit. Many of the country's line companies have substations in remote areas, meaning long drive times when going to inspect a fault.
Schwass says if those drive times can be reduced it could save a lot of money for firms.
Transpower last year demonstrated new surveillance technology, such as drones, line and substation robots, that it is testing at various sites.
Aurora is wholly owned by Dunedin City Holdings, which also owns Delta Utility Services, the company that manages Aurora's network.
Delta asset manager Lingsong Zheng says the operator can remotely re-programme a relay, remote terminal unit, or intelligent electronic device at the substation from a control room. LED Lights flash on the front panel of the re-programmed device in a certain pattern to inform the operator of the software’s progress.
Zheng says when there was a remote terminal unit failure, the pattern of lights on the front panel of that unit meant the fault was identified without having to send someone to the substation.
“Multiple site visits are therefore avoided, and time on site is reduced.”
The distributor supplies power to central Otago and Dunedin city. Its network annually delivers around 1,330 GWh of electricity from five Transpower grid exit points and six local power generation supply points, to more than 83,600 homes and businesses.
Schwass says the pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) cameras are installed at Aurora’s substations, which allow the operator to remotely control the camera. There are also fixed cameras, which are mainly used for gathering site analytics.
The firm also installed software in the control room to aid with monitoring work.
“When we need to find out something in a substation, just a few clicks give us a real-time view of our critical infrastructure,” Zheng says.
Recorded footage from the first day of the Aurora trial showed people loitering around the substation and throwing rubbish into it, he says.
Real-time monitoring also means that some substation can be observed to ensure health and safety procedures are being met, Zheng says.