Powerful Protection

The T Security Wall from Highland, Mich.-based Advance Concrete Products Co. affords robust perimeter protection for the United States’ first fully digital, plug-and-play, transmission-voltage substation. One Energy Enterprises Inc. built the facility at its Findlay, Ohio headquarters as a proof of concept for a new digital station architecture. Along with physical security attributable to precast concrete elements, the substation is designed with no exposed live parts on the medium voltage buswork, eliminating risks related to animal interference and blowing debris. To curtail the potential for fires, the facility operates with environmentally friendly oils, plus passive and automatic flame suppression.

“It is time we completely rethink how substations are designed so that the industry stops making the same mistakes they have been for the last 50 years. Traditional substations are not secure; they can fail during inevitable severe weather conditions, lack basic condition monitoring, and rely on thousands of small wires to send status and control signals back to the control building,” says One Energy CEO Jereme Kent. “This is why we’ve designed our fully digital substations to be secure, resilient, embrace real-time condition monitoring, and survive every conceivable weather event.”

Advance Concrete’s T Wall system, he notes, stands to meet or exceed prospective requirements for substation perimeter protection, adding: “We expect, and hope, that governments will start to mandate basic common sense physical security protections as more and more infrastructure is attacked. In my opinion, anyone who is building a substation and relying on a chain link fences is both ignorant of the realities of the world and ignoring a duty to the public to protect basic critical infrastructure. Solid walls, like the ones we used, should be the minimum.” 

The facility, adds One Energy Director and past Federal Energy Regulatory Chair Jon Wellinghoff, “is not just best-in-class for utility-scale substations, it is the only one in its class. This new substation was built faster, is less expensive, and is going to be more reliable than a similar sized substation that could be built by any utility in the U.S.”

The substation went live in September with partial fencing as interim protection. Build out will include additional power equipment and T Security Wall along the full perimeter: 15 panels, 8-ft. wide, 10-ft. high, per elevation. Advance Concrete has supplied the 20- x 10- x 10-ft. precast control building in addition to the T Wall package.