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August 2018

ConnectWith: Your electric co-op's IT professionals

Innovation through information technology

We're protecting your privacy while enhancing system performance.

Safety, security and reliability are just a few areas in which your SYEMC Information Technology personnel provide vital support. From the security of our members’ privacy to substation communication, these professionals are on alert 24/7.     

With phone and online scams occurring almost daily, our IT professionals take steps to ensure the security of our members’ personal information. “We will never call you threatening to disconnect your power,” says Bryon Kennedy, systems administrator. “PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance standards prohibit us from accepting payments over the phone.” All payments by phone must be completed through our automated system.     

As electric grids become “smarter,” the need grows for system communications and security. The addition of a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system will allow us to gather and analyze real-time data, which also helps reduce wholesale power costs.     

This system of hardware and software will allow us to more accurately predict and pinpoint the location of power outages. The result will be fewer and shorter interruptions in service, as well as a quicker response by crews to outages. Our goal is to have SCADA installed and online by the end of 2019.     

Secure communication between SYEMC headquarters and each substation is critical. IT Support Specialist Susan Duncan is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring these lines of communication function properly, as well as maintaining the equipment.     

“If a firewall is not working properly, we won’t be able to efficiently restore power to a member’s home after an outage,” says Duncan. Needless to say, these firewalls are monitored closely, and issues are addressed immediately.     

Drone technology has been on the rise, especially in the utility industry. These remote-controlled, flying cameras allow us to inspect poles, wires, transformers, rights-of-way and more. “By identifying potential problems early, we’re able to prevent major outages and expensive repairs,” says Caleb Harris, GIS coordinator and FAA-certified drone pilot.     

Harris collects images and videos during flights and shares data with systems engineers and operations personnel. This data has proven to be effective during recent pole inspections and construction of the new delivery point at the Mount Airy Substation.     

Rest assured, your electric co-op’s IT department is looking out for your safety and security while contributing to the reliability of our electrical distribution system. As advances are made in technology, these professionals are committed to keeping pace with the lastest industry trends. Providing safe, reliable, affordable and secure service is our top priority.


Drone technology is being used by SYEMC for more-efficient, lower-cost pole inspections.
Click below to read the full August 2018 Carolina Country.
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