tri-state generation and transmission associationBased in the Denver suburb of Westminster, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. is the wholesale power supplier to 44 electric cooperatives and public power districts in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Nebraska. The member distribution systems serve nearly 593,000 consumer-meters, which translates to a population of approximately 1.4 million end-use consumers.


Tri-State has a dispatch control center in Westminster, CO that communicates to more than 300 substation and power plant remote terminal units (RTUs). These locations communicate with the control center over a variety of transport networks including digital Microwave Radio, Multiservice SONET and leased digital services. As part of the U.S. Electric Grid reliability initiative, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) requires all electric utilities, which are transmission operators, to operate a backup control center (BCC) consistent with NERC standards EOP-008-0 (emergency operating procedure) and COM-001 (telecommunications).

With this requirement and these standards, Tri-State developed a large number of requirements including:
  • The BCC must communicate with substations and RTUs independently of the primary control center.
  • RTUs are bridged to enable scanning from both EMS master stations.
  • BCC must have an on-site backup generator, UPS and battery backup.
  • BCC must consist of communications equipment, battery/UPS, dispatch, and power marketing rooms with specific space requirements.
  • The BCC must be within a one hour’s drive from the primary control center.
  • There must be fully redundant EMS master stations at both the primary and backup control centers.
  • There must be an independent communications link between the primary and backup control centers used exclusively for database updates and system maintenance.
  • A redundant data system is required at each location to provide archiving of all real-time SCADA information.
  • Dispatch radio consoles are required at the BCC for field related telecommunications.


Beyond the construction and operationalizing of the backup control center itself, these requirements necessitated the use of multiple technologies over a wide area network. To get the job done, Tri-State turned to telecommunications systems integrator, LightRiver Technologies.

LightRiver constructed a backup control center from an empty room and deployed multiple technologies, including racks and ironwork, Multiservice SONET, digital-cross connects, channel backs, DSX and VF cross-connects from multiple vendors in six locations.

On the path to completion, LightRiver handled all the details of this ambitious undertaking to meet the NERC requirements including:

  • Joint engineering and design
  • Site readiness survey
  • Multi-vendor logistics – staging, warehousing, DOA resolution, change orders and sub-contractor management
  • Installation, test and turn-up in the backup data center as well as remote locations
  • Training
  • Documentation including methods of procedure and job completion packages
  • Project bonding

The end result was a state-of-the-art backup control center, which LightRiver took from empty room to fully operational.

tri state before and after comparison

Jeff Selman, Senior Manager of Transmission Systems Support for Tri-State:

LightRiver completed a turnkey, staged telecommunications job for us. Based on the multiple challenges and short timeframe of building the backup control center coupled with LightRiver’s technical expertise, ability to sweat the details and commitment to staying until the job is done, I thought they were a perfect fit for the project. And, I was not disappointed.

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