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RTI Data Distribution Service Selected for Upgrade of Grand Coulee Dam’s Control System

Real-Time Innovations (RTI), The Real-Time Middleware Experts, announced today that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has selected RTI Data Distribution Service for an upgrade of the Grand Coulee Dam’s control system. RTI’s middleware will integrate components of the dam’s next-generation Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, enabling more efficient and reliable hydroelectric power generation.

The Grand Coulee Dam is the largest hydropower plant in the United States. The plant must carefully control how it supplies power to the grid. Failures that cause power spikes or dropouts are not acceptable. The project to retrofit the control system is for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) in cooperation with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hydroelectric Design Center (HDC) is the system integrator; HDC selected RTI Data Distribution Service to implement a highly available, high-performance and scalable control system.

The dam network connects a 40,000-point SCADA system controlling 30 generators to the transmission switchyard. In the new architecture, RTI Data Distribution Service will be used to integrate 50 to 60 Linux-based Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) on the central control network with Windows Human-Machine Interface (HMI) systems and various database and health-monitoring servers. The system will run on standard, ruggedized commercial computing hardware. The architecture will eventually be deployed on a network of 12 dams in the Federal Columbia River Power System.

Dave Brown, the project manager and system architect for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said, “We selected RTI after a comprehensive evaluation of Data Distribution Service [DDS] solutions. We liked RTI’s architecture because it eliminates all single points of failure. If a shared daemon fails, it impacts many critical applications. With RTI’s purely in-process solution, there is no dependence on shared services. We will be able to implement N-way redundancy for all critical subsystems.”

Automated Control Systems Inc. (ACSI) is a contractor on the project. ACSI president Dan Perrier added, “The dam control system processes waveform data, power metrics, temperatures, oil levels, vibration sensors and more. The current system uses many different protocols. DDS, with its flexible configuration and high performance, is easier to work with and is a better way to integrate the systems.”

Stan Schneider, CEO of RTI, observed, “We are proud to be an important part of such a large and strategic power system for the United States. Hundreds of mission-critical applications across several industries rely on RTI middleware. The selection of RTI Data Distribution Service for the Grand Coulee Dam speaks well of the maturity of both our product and the DDS standard.”