Military and telecom expertise create high-tech utility solution
Jason Brown is the director of IT infrastructure at Xcel Energy, where he manages the procurement, development, deployment, and implementation of the utility’s technology and software solutions. He has more than 20 years of experience delivering and implementing IT solutions for Fortune 100 companies, including Dell and Cargill.
Remember when you had to walk across the room to adjust the rabbit ear antenna to get a better TV signal? Now, imagine trying to hold a 120-foot antenna in 90 mile-per-hour winds...an antenna that if moved more than an inch, would lose its signal.
That was just one of the challenges facing Xcel Energy as it strategized creating a temporary microwave connection to secure vital communications for a new substation in New Mexico in order to meet contractual requirements. Without sufficient time to obtain federal and municipal approvals for a new fixed tower, Xcel Energy's Business Systems team had to find a fast, reliable and accurate solution that could be designed, built and deployed in six months.
After a wind farm went into commission west of Dora, N.M., Xcel Energy needed communications for a new nearby substation on a 345-kilovolt transmission line to start receiving 300 megawatts of wind energy. The company faced penalties for every megawatt of production not accepted onto its system once the third-party wind farm went into production.
Due to lengthy permitting requirements for permanent licensed communication towers, penalties were looking like a real possibility. Without sufficient time to obtain necessary approvals for a new fixed tower, the company needed a reliable and secure temporary solution.