First Software Defined Network for critical infrastructure

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The SDN is being used by California’s energy grid operator, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), to connect power stations to its control system in real time.

Humboldt Redwood Company, owner of a 28.8 MW biomass power plant, became the first operator to be brought online with the network. The unit will generate steam and electricity by burning 250,000 tonnes of wood waste from the company’s sawmill and planer mill in Scotia, California.

“Most network services used to securely transport SCADA data depend on technologies almost 20 years old,” said Richard E. Harrison, president and CEO of Dispersive Technologies. “They’re slow to deploy, costly to operate, limited in their flexibility to support diverse user groups, and challenging to scale. As a result, these traditional private networks and VPNs no longer represent best practices for protecting data-in-motion. The Dispersive Critical Infrastructure Software-Defined Network addresses those problems. It offers various parties – regional balancing authorities, utilities, independent power producers, and service companies supporting the power industry – the ability to establish secure virtual network connections to any resource by using any available local Internet access.”

“Because Dispersive’s CISDN requires only a standard broadband connection to the public Internet it’s much easier and less expensive to install than other networks,” said Christian Arechavaleta, systems integration engineer for Pacific Power Engineers, which helped install the network. “A utility or cogeneration plant can deploy it in days rather than weeks. And the network’s integrated firewall protects field assets and assures highly secure communications.”

The Dispersive CISDN provides the California ISO with additional capability to secure direct telemetry from generating assets within its service area. The California ISO is also exploring possibilities to include metering and other data streams.,


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