New Control System to Improve Electricity Services

The KwaDukuza Local Municipality (KDM) is installing a SCADA system and Control Room to monitor and

control the extensive electricity supply network for which it is responsible in its area of jurisdiction.

This process was initiated through the Vuthela iLembe LED Support Programme with the drafting of specifica- tions in 2019. The Executive Director: Electrical Engineer- ing Business Unit, Mr Sibusiso Jali, has been on board and spearheaded the KDM’s involvement and participation from the beginning of this initiative. 

What is SCADA in simple terms?

The approach for restoring power predominantly used by municipalities or electricity service utilities in the past is through dispatching maintenance crews to the fault location following customer calls. This implies long times for service restoration, depending on how quickly cus- tomers report the power outage and the maintenance crews to locate and solve the problem.

Instead of relying exclusively on call centres to keep track of power cuts at all voltage levels, utilities could incorporate a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system to remotely operate, supervise and con- trol their high and medium voltage infrastructure. This is done by means of installation of monitoring and commu- nications infrastructure that can send and receive signals between the component being monitored, such as a sub- station anywhere in the network and a master station that could be situated at the main offices of the utility/ munic- ipal service provider. Skilled personnel would monitor the network and can act immediately should a fault arise.

The SCADA can assist the utility to gather useful information on the electricity network and performance of components that can be used in trend analysis. This in turn can better inform the utility to perform planned and preventative maintenance. The SCADA is further com- plemented by an Outage Management System (OMS) to manage and resolve incidents at low-voltage level.

A state-of-art SCADA system is one of the most cost-efficient solutions that not only helps utilities in- crease reliability through automation but also helps to

lower costs and enable problem areas to be detected and addressed automatically and remotely. This in turn allows human resources to be deployed elsewhere to ensure quality service delivery.

The history of the SCADA project in KDM in terms of the original design work that was done by Zutari (previously Aurecon)

In 2016, under the scope of the Vuthela Programme, the IFC identified the need of implementing a SCADA system in KwaDukuza Municipality, considering the size of the utility company (about 46 000 customers and 120MW as its maximum power demand) and the impor- tance of improving the reliability of supply provided by the municipality in some areas of the KDM. In 2019, Zutari (previously Aurecon) was appointed to work on the

functional design of the SCADA and Control Room, scoping the integration of 15 existing 33kV substations and six future 132kV and 33kV substations of KwaDukuza and Mandeni Municipalities. It further included specifications for setting up of a Control Room to operate and monitor the SCADA and making recommendations for the human resources required.

Towards the end of 2019, the KDM with the assistance of the Vuthela team, prepared a Business Plan proposal to the National Treasury (NT) Department, which implemented funding from the European Union, under the 5th Call for Funding Proposals. The submission was successful and the process started in 2020 with the KDM and NT to establish the project implementation structures and procuring of a service provider to implement the SCADA and Control Room for the electrical services network of the KDM. At present, the KDM is in the procurement stage of the project for implementation and the establishment of a centralised Distribution Con- trol Room, fully supported by a SCADA system, taking control of networks operations of the 10 power facilities/ substations. Vuthela and the IFC continue to support the municipality through the implementation of the project.

The proposed technical solution designed for implementing the SCADA system and Control Room in KwaDukuza is shown in the following figure:

The new system will allow the KDM to receive data from key points in the power network in real

time, enabling it to respond immediately by managing components of the network remotely from a central control room.

The system consists of hardware and software components which are installed onsite at identified points in the network and at the main offices of the KDM. This will enable communica- tions and monitoring of the power flow of electricity and reporting the network’s performance to a central control centre in the municipality.

This will improve service delivery levels significantly.

Faults will be identified and rectified swiftly and the power supply will be more consistent. Domestic,

commercial and industrial consumers of electricity will experience a better quality of service, a streamlined and faster fault restoration process.

All staff who will operate the SCADA will be trained to ensure that the effective use of the system will improve business confidence and lead to growth in the region.

Recent studies into the loss of revenue from electricity in KwaDukuza found that several areas of data collection about customers and their usage could be improved.