New system to monitor electrical power

By Rob Heselbarth

All electrical power coming into the NIU campus from Commonwealth Edison will be monitored by a new electrical monitoring system.

A System Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system will be in operation by January, 1993.

The total cost of the installation will be $160,000, which comes from a capital repair and maintenance fund, an auxiliary enterprises and activities fund and a revenue bond fund.

The main purposes of the SCADA system will be to optimize the effective use of electrical power on campus and to assure a reliable electrical system.

James Harder, vice president of Business and Operations, said this system will benefit NIU. “This is another effort by NIU to deal with growing electrical consumption on campus,” he said.

Richard Schimmoler, superintendent of electrical construction, said the electrical system right now is a hit-and-miss configuration.

“We can take instantaneous readings of electrical power going into a building, but we can’t continually monitor it,” Schimmoler said.

“At the moment we are taking a reading, the air conditioning might not be on, so the reading will be much lower than if the air conditioning was running,” he said.

He said the new system will take readings from each electric substation every fifteen minutes, so a full readout with peaks and low points of power usage can be obtained.

“It will tell us what we have to do in the future as far as directing electrical power,” Schimmoler said.

Another purpose of the SCADA system will be to alert electricians of problems, such as power failures when they occur.

“We want to become aware of problems on campus as quickly as possible,” Harder said.

Schimmoler said an alarm can be set to go off if there is a problem. “Then fiber optics will send the readings to the physical plant so someone can be dispatched to the scene of the problem,” Schimmoler said.

The SCADA system will allow for quicker reconnection of electrical power if a power failure actually occurs.

“In case of a major power outage, this system will help us bring buildings back on line, and to reload the feeder lines without overloading them,” Schimmoler said.

He said with the old system, there was no way of telling how much power was going into the feeder lines. It was easy to overload them, which caused further delay in getting power back to the buildings.

Schimmoler said the SCADA central networking system will be installed in the telecommunications building. A box full of electronics will be mounted on each of the four electric substations as well.

Substations are located near Huskie Stadium, south of the field house, on Carroll Avenue near the card lot and on the corner of Kishwaukee Drive and Lucinda Avenue.

Harder said the purpose of the SCADA system is not to lower electrical costs. “However, if we could reduce cost, that would be desirable,” he said.