Secure smart grid moves forward

Talk is starting to actually move to action as companies are beginning to make a big push to really make the Smart Grid a secure reality. Sensus, the Raleigh, NC-based company, recently incorporated encryption and key management technologies from IBM


Sensus will use the IBM Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager  software to centralize and automate the encryption key management process for all network deployments. Further, the technology integration will include NSA Suite B standards compliant cryptographic logic from IBM in all newer generation devices.

“We have to look at security as a moving target,” said Matt Zafuto, vice president of strategic alliances at Sensus. “In the same way that we continually update a personal computer against new viruses, we have to be constantly vigilant of new threats against critical infrastructures, such as utility networks.”

IBM will implement an asymmetric key based solution using elliptic curve cryptography (ECC). In addition to the strong confidentiality and integrity of the existing encryption protocol, Sensus FlexNet will gain the benefit of digital signatures and non-repudiation. The TKLM integration will also provide a simple, user friendly key locker interface that will enable utilities to securely manage the encryption keys.

“By working with Sensus, we are able to introduce technologies such as encryption and key management into the smart grid market, to ensure the communication between smart meters and utilities is reliable, secure and uninterrupted,” said Doug Scheller, Global IUN Smart Metering Solution Leader, Energy and Utilities Industry, IBM.

Sensus has also participated in several third-party certification processes for network integrity and in early 2011, became the first AMI vendor to achieve Achilles Communication and Practices certifications for cyber security through industrial testing and certification firm, Wurldtech Security Technologies.

The IBM products will ensure a much higher degree of safety from any future threats, Zafuto said. “By combining the technological strengths of both Sensus and IBM, we can produce the level of security our customers require and help drive industry compliance with the most rigorous security standards and guidelines like the NIST IR 7628,” added Zafuto.

Sensus expects to have the new IBM encryption and key management functionality available by early 2012.

Meanwhile, GreenHouse Holdings, Inc. a provider of energy efficiency solutions and sustainable facilities products, partnered with Irvine, CA-based IC Systems, a provider of industrial monitoring and wide area network (WAN) monitoring equipment.

Together, the companies will offer a variety of systems and solutions to Southern California Edison (SCE) and their customers. The partnership includes communications and controls equipment designed to improve the financial and technical feasibility of Automated Demand Response projects.

Under the terms of the agreement, IC Systems chose GreenHouse to be its distributor for smart grid applications within the SCE territory. This will allow GreenHouse to expand its menu of automation and monitoring components designed to drastically minimize the work disruption that can be a result of implementing Demand Response measures. IC Systems’ Smart Grid Technology provides industrial (open source) hardware with universally accepted power industry protocols allowing customers to take advantage of SCE’s Auto-DR program.

Additionally, PECO selected Telvent smart grid solutions to upgrade its electrical network, reduce power losses and operational costs, and improve power quality and reliability.

PECO, a Pennsylvania-based electric and gas distribution company that provides energy to the Philadelphia area, will implement Telvent’s advanced distribution management system (ADMS) to monitor and control its electric network using one integrated system.

With this system, the utility will have access to real-time information to control load management, fault analysis and network optimization. In addition, PECO will leverage Telvent’s OASyS Dynamic Network of Applications (DNA) supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system to immediately pinpoint potential trouble spots within the network, increasing customer satisfaction by addressing issues, such as service outages, more quickly and efficiently.

PECO is working to upgrade its metering technology for its 1.6 million electric customers during the next 10 years.

This project began in May 2011 and will finish in 2013. PECO also employs Telvent’s OASyS DNA SCADA solution to optimize operational efficiencies and cut costs for its gas distribution network.

- Edited by Chris Vavra, Plant Engineering, 

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